Written by: Wayne C. Rogers
Directed by: Peter Askin
Cast: Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia
I was certainly intrigued by the trailers for the film of A Good Marriage.
I’d read the novella in Stephen King’s collection, Full Dark and No Stars, and loved it. I wondered if the movie would be as good as the story. The film, however, never played at the theater in the hotel where I work, so I had to wait for the DVD to eventually come out. By then, of course, most of the reviews had really blasted the film, downgrading the performances and giving the film two-or-three stars. Still, I’m a big fan of the acting by both Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia, so I said to hell with it and purchased the movie on DVD, and I’m glad I did.
The movie is by no means as good as Stand By Me or Shawshank Redemption or The Dead Zone. At the same time, it is certainly better than The Lawnmower Man and Children of the Corn and Maximum Overdrive. I watched the film with a critical eye, examining the parts where other reviewers were the least complimenting. For me, there were no. Certainly the movie was a low budget film when compared to others, but both Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia carried the production on their shoulders and did a wonderful job in their roles.
For those who don’t know, A Good Marriage is about a loving couple who have been married for over two decades. In the movie, the husband is a fantastic accountant, who loves to travel on the weekends to coin shows and purchase rare coins for his collection. The wife is a stay-at-home mom who has raised her children and takes care of the house. Now, they do have a neighbor who is young and sexy, and when the husband is working in the yard, he checks her out. But, that’s something all men pretty much do no matter how old they get. It’s hard not to look at a pretty woman.
One night while her husband, Bob, is away to a coin show, the wife (Darcy) goes out to the garage to look for some batteries to the TV’s remote control. She accidentally discovers a hidden box that’s filled with the identification cards of the last woman murdered by the serial killer known as Beadie or BD. In the novella, there were IDs from several killings and Darcy was able to correlate the dates to when her husband was away from home. Not so with the movie. When Bob calls her from the road to see how everything is going, he detects something different in her voice that causes the red lights to go off in his head.
Darcy wakes up during the night to find her husband has returned home early and is sitting in the dark corner, looking at her. He confronts Darcy about her new knowledge, acting like being a serial killer is no big deal. Darcy, however, knows that she has to buy time so she can figure out what to do. She realizes that no one would ever believe she didn’t know Bob was the serial killer, and blame her and the children for his acts.
On top of this, there is a strange man whom she occasionally sees watching the house. The stranger is played wonderfully by Stephen Lang, who is totally unrecognizable in the role. I remember Lang from Michael Mann’s movie, Manhunter, from back in the late eighties, and he does not look the same. Nor, does he appear to be the same man from Avatar.
I liked the film. I felt Bob and Darcy’s long marriage was well established at the party in the beginning of the movie. There were two parts in the film that made me jump, which were good surprises and caught me somewhat off guard. The end of the movie was satisfying with all the loose ends tied up.
There were a few minor things that didn’t ring true. Either the script writer or the director chose to include two dream sequences which you think is actually happening, but in reality is a dream so that it catches you off guard. This has been used dozens of times over the last three decades. The first time in A Good Marriage was kind of cool and it fooled me, but I was subconsciously looking for it the second and knew when it was happening. The director should have known better. Never use a technique like that more than once in a film because the viewers will be expecting it after the first time.
Also, if Bob noticed the stranger watching their house, he never said anything and Bob noticed everything out of the ordinary.
There was one line I really enjoyed. It was pure Stephen King. Spoiler Alert! Whenever Bob and Darcy had sex, he always wanted her to be on top. When Darcy was killing him near the end of the film, and she was straddling the front of his body, she asked Bob, “How do you like me being on top now?”
As I said earlier, over all I seemed to like the film better than others did. I would give it an honest B- to a solid B. Both of the lead actors made the movie as good as it was, with Joan Allen really stealing the show as a mild-mannered wife who is much tougher than she looks.