The adulterous foursome in We Don't Live Here Anymore are so saturated with recriminatory emotions—guilt, anger, shame—the movie feels damp and oxygen-depleted. Adapted from stories by Andre Dubus (whose "Killings" inspired In the Bedroom), it's a bell jar reverberating with arguments. If only Dr. Phil could bring his hammer down on the glass and free everyone into the air.
Jack (Ruffalo), a college English teacher, is married to Terry (Dern) but attracted to her best friend, Edith (Watts), who happens to be married to his best friend, Hank (Krause), a writing instructor. Once Jack and Edith have gone ahead and flung themselves into their fling, a spiteful Terry accepts an offer to sleep with Hank. Then comes a four-way crash that is prolonged and messy.
The performances, as directed by John Curran, are varied and all expertly keyed. Ruffalo underplays with his rumpled, boyish naturalism; Dern tears through her scenes with high theatrical fury, all but rending her garments; Krause is remote and bemused; Watts, for a few scenes, glows with unforced erotic happiness. If anything, though, the harmony is a bit too perfect: The cast is like an old string quartet that has already toured all the capitals of Europe and will be coming soon to a college campus auditorium near you. (R)