The Secret Lives Of Dentists

Craig Lucas’s adaptation of the Jane Smiley novella The Age of Griefthe interior monologue of a repressed dentist who’s fairly sure his wife, also a dentist, is carrying on an affairsat on the shelf for over a decade after the death of the slated director, Norman Rene, but Alan Rudolph has done a fine job with it. I haven’t read the novella, but reportedly the script’s main alteration is expanding a minor character (played by Denis Leary), a spiky trumpet player and patient of the hero, into a major fantasy projection so that his neo-Joycean monologue becomes a dialogue. It’s an excellent idea that feels right psychologically. The couple (Hope Davis and Campbell Scott) have three daughters, all drawn as persuasively as the parents, and the film is equally good in handling the discrepancy between skilled and unskilled parents (the father is much better than the mother) and the complications that ensue when an entire family comes down with the flu (2002). 105 min. (JR)

This entry was posted in Featured Texts. Bookmark the permalink.