WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE Not a movie for the young or the restless, this adaptation of two stories by Andre Dubus (whose scribblings also inspired In the Bedroom) is a bracingly mature look at the messiness of matrimony -- one of the most scabrous such depictions to hit the screen since Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage. This new drama isn't nearly as accomplished a picture -- it often paints its players in broad strokes whereas Scenes had no problem with the detail work -- yet its ability to examine the frailties of its imperfect players without condemnation is admirable, and its awareness of the gray area surrounding issues of unfaithfulness is almost revolutionary. Basically a four-character chamber piece (with an occasional rugrat scampering across the screen when required), the movie centers on tortured couples Jack and Terry Linden (Mark Ruffalo and Laura Dern) and Hank and Edith Evans (Peter Krause and Naomi Watts). With both couples feeling that their marriages are eroding, duplicity and despair become the orders of the day: Jack and Edith carry on a torrid affair, Hank continues to eye the young ladies as well as make passes at Terry, and Terry finds herself in the grip of a complete meltdown. Morally superior moviegoers will tsk-tsk at the suggestion that an affair can occasionally be part of the healing process rather than the death knell to a happy home, but the movie treats its subject matter with a hard-earned honesty. Krause fills the sketchiest part with ease; Watts builds on her string of gut-wrenching performances; Ruffalo continues to get better with each picture (he borders on phenomenal in this one); and Dern occupies the meatiest role of her career with a ferocity that's frequently chilling.
WICKER PARK We'll have to take the word of the Europeans that 1996's L'Appartement is a solid thriller, since the movie never reached US shores. Instead, we're stuck with this lousy remake, a film so daft that either the original was vastly overpraised or Hollywood did an even worse job than usual of reimagining a foreign flick for xenophobic Yankee audiences. Josh Hartnett, offering further proof that anybody can make it in Hollywood without a shred of talent, charisma or even a pulse, plays Matthew, who meets the love of his life in Lisa (Diane Kruger) and is heartbroken when she unexpectedly drops out of sight. Two years later, he thinks he spots her in a restaurant, but his subsequent sleuthing instead puts him into contact with another woman who calls herself Lisa (Rose Byrne), a clingy individual who may know more about the situation than she's revealing. Wicker Park turns out to be one of those movies that whips back and forth between flashbacks and present-day sequences with no discernible rhyme or reason. That's fine when dealing with a slippery murder-mystery or a complex sci-fi outing, but here it can scarcely disguise the fact that this is nothing more than a dull melodrama marked by plot coincidences of staggering stupidity. Kruger, the weak link in Troy, is even worse here, and whenever she and Hartnett share the same frame, you can almost hear the whooshing sound created by the two human vacuums filling the screen. Byrne, another Troy alumna, fares better as the mystery woman, while the usually annoying Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo's Shaggy) provides some much-needed levity as the hapless best friend.
THE BOURNE SUPREMACY Taken together, both Bourne films feel like consecutive episodes of a mildly entertaining television drama that can't touch Alias in its attempts at trickery and, more importantly, character development. Here, Matt Damon's ex-CIA assassin Jason Bourne is even more tight-lipped than before; without girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente, former co-star reduced to cameo player) to bounce off, he's a rather one-dimensional figure, going through the motions as he tries to find out who's framing him for murder. The good stuff mostly comes during the first half; as the film progresses, the mystery slackens rather than deepens, and the movie culminates with a sloppily edited car chase that goes on for so long that I had to be reminded: Was Matt Damon playing Jason Bourne or Sheriff Buford T. Justice? 1/2
COLLATERAL The notion of matinee idol Tom Cruise playing a hardened assassin may sound like a gimmick, but his performance in director Michael Mann's drama is a fine one, nicely seasoned with just the right touch of piquantness. Sporting salt-and-pepper hair that suits him well, Cruise stars as Vincent, a contract killer who forces a cab driver named Max (solid Jamie Foxx) to ferry him around nocturnal Los Angeles so he can carry out his hits. Scripter Stuart Beattie creates some interesting give-and-take dynamics between Vincent and Max, yet he and Mann (Heat) seem to be equally interested in the peripheral elements, a decision which gives the film added resonance.