View Full Version : The Secret Life Of Dentists (2003) ***1/2

08-21-2003, 03:07 PM
Review by George Schmidt:

THE SECRET LIFE OF DENTISTS (2003) ***1/2 Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Denis Leary, Robin Tunney, Gianna Beleno, Cassidy Hinkle, Lydia Jordan. Filmmaker Alan Rudolph plumbs the depths of dark social comedy with this ingenious adaptation of Jane Smiley's novel `The Age of Grief' with a skillful screenplay by playwright Craig Lucas about a reasonably happily married couple (Scott and Davis at career highs here showcasing his trademark cerebral comic capabilities and her patented chilly brittleness) whose dental practice together serves a razor-sharp metaphor for their suddenly troubled relationship when the seed of doubt is planted by the assumption of Scott that Davis is having an affair only to be manipulated by his over-active imagination imbued by an alter ego he sees in the form of a sarcastic patient (Leary doing some of his snappy disgruntled shtick to full effect) who allows his blacker sides to show. Family life has never been more keenly observed in this funny and surprisingly poignant look at how marriage can be a true test of faith in a complacent lifestyle of empty fulfillment. Has the feel of a latter day John Cheever parable of suburban hell. Point of interest, this film re-unites the protagonist trio from Scott's experimental film `Final' a year ago.


09-26-2003, 06:36 PM
It amazes me that a film this dull can be received as poignant. While it might the stultifying effects of parenthood and career, it's done in such a delberately vague manner, the film itself is banal. There really is no story, just a series of mundane occurences. Such a framework is intended to focus on the characters and their interactions. In The Secret Lives of Dentists, only Leary's character is alive, and he isn't on screen enough to make the film worthwhile.

The Secret Lives of Dentists is the kind of film in which what is not said is intended to have more of an impact than what is. But the characters are so insipid (except for Leary) and Randolph's approach is deliberately understated that the film is bland and unmemorable.