We Don't Live Here Anymore

"I wonder how we'll get caught," says Edith (Naomi Watts) after some illicit sex in the woods with Jack (Mark Ruffalo). Jack is best buds with Hank (Peter Krause), Edith's husband. And Edith is tight with Terry (Laura Dern), Jack's wife, who decides to screw Hank in retaliation. So it goes on this New England campus where Jack and Hank teach, help their wives raise the kids and betray each other through adultery they don't try that hard to conceal.<p>Based on two short stories by Andre Dubus (In the Bedroom), We Don't Live Here Anymore — astutely directed by John Curran, from an artful screenplay by Larry Gross — sets off sexual fireworks that leave scorched earth. This is Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for disaffected young marrieds. The film, sometimes talky and overemphatic, is also literate, erotic, brutally funny and touched by brilliance in its quartet of live-wire performances. Krause, of Six Feet Under, and Ruffalo bring a depth to their roles that goes way beyond what's on the page. Watts continues to amaze — a bombshell with a tough core of intelligence and wit. And Dern, in her finest performance since 1996's Citizen Ruth, breaks through to the battered heart of the script's most complex character. Don't discount this film's power — it doesn't just sizzle, it stings.

From The Archives Issue 348: July 23, 1981