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The Secret Lives of Dentists

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
The Secret Lives of Dentists
from Film Forum, 08/21/03

Based on Jane Smiley's novella The Age of Grief, Alan Rudolph's new film The Secret Lives of Dentists is earning praise for the performances of lead actors Campbell Scott (Roger Dodger)and Hope Davis (About Schmidt.) The story concerns a dentist (Scott) who has dreams that upset his trust in his wife and involve troubling visits from a patient (Dennis Leary.)

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says, "Rudolph elicits nuanced performances in his mordantly humorous meditation on marital dysfunction. The film paints a darkly humorous, but ultimately compassionate, portrait of married life. The film … stresses friendship in marriage as the cornerstone of a loving and committed relationship, a gift shared by spouses long after white-hot sexual passions have cooled."

In The New York Observer, Andrew Sarris acclaims the film as "the most passionate defense of monogamy and marriage from a male perspective that I've ever seen in an American movie. Too many reviewers have undervalued the film." He praises "the wit, charm, tact and fluid grace of this exhilarating and yet also edifying entertainment. The Secret Lives of Dentists suggests once more that the gap between good movies and bad movies is growing ever wider conceptually. In any event, Mr. Rudolph's opus is already guaranteed a place on my year's 10-best list."

Ted Baehr, who in his latest issue of Movieguide says that SARS, mad cow disease, and crop blights are God's judgment on Canada, agrees that The Secret Lives of Dentists makes "some moral points." But he is dismayed that the film "is shot in such an artistic fashion that this allegory is not clear."

from Film Forum, 09/18/03

Alan Rudolph's latest film earns Leary's praise as well: "The Secret Lives of Dentistsis not a charming film by any means. But it is a compelling look at what really lies at the heart of marriage."