Mark Ruffalo and Laura Dern play one couple, Naomi Watts and Peter Krause play another. Both couples are friendly, especially Ruffalo and Watts, who sneak away every possible moment to have sex with each other. Dern’s no dummy, though. She knows her husband is cheating with her friend — and it’s driving her nuts. Krause knows, too — but he’s just grateful someone else can make his wife happy if he can’t. To make matters even more complicated, both couples have children.
We Don’t Live Here Anymore waxes philosophical on infidelity. In real life, there’s no way people would be as self-aware and eloquently expressive about the subject. But it certainly gives the actors, particularly Ruffalo and Dern, some juicy scenes to sink their teeth into. If the script weren’t so pointed, I think their performances might have been Oscar nominated. And if the characters weren’t so compelled to do self-inflicted harm on each other, maybe audiences would have rooted for them.
Director John Curran gives the film some beautiful moments, particularly when the characters are out in nature, and he handles the film’s sex scenes in a beautiful way, too. But despite the great cast and polished execution, this film just doesn’t approach the subject matter in a way I find meaningful. I’m all for explorations on complicated relationships that defy social norms. But I’m not convinced such relationships necessarily spell doom, which We Don’t Live Here Anymore seems to suggest in tonal and stylistic ways. Haven’t we been told enough cautionary tales about the dangers of sex outside of wedlock?