john-curran

10

In his stories, (Andre) Dubus does something very difficult: He dramatizes the loss of passion without ever once making it feel as banal as it does to the characters. Perhaps this is because he is able to see these people as they once were, and because he holds out for them the possibility of redemption. The movie doesn’t have the boozy, bruised richness of the stories, even though it expands Dubus’s narrative to incorporate the viewpoints of all the characters. What it does occasionally have, particularly in Ruffalo’s performance, is a sense of how confounding love and lovelessness truly are…

…Ruffalo, who works with an intuitive, unemphatic grace, brings out the dizzying contradictions in his character. Jack knows he’s a worm, but on some level he wants to do right by everybody—he wants to save Terry from himself, he wants to protect his children (his real love), he doesn’t want to hurt Edith. He even cares for Hank, despite (or perhaps because of) everything his friend has perpetrated. In a lesser actor’s hands, Jack’s situation could be summed up as midlife crisis, but with Ruffalo it’s a soul sickness. This is not just a phase we are watching, it’s the human condition.  -  Peter Rainer (New York magazine)