Volume 93, Issue 27
Tuesday, October 19, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Reiner tells a candid story worth listening to
©Photo by Ralph Nelson
PLEASE HONEY, JUST ONCE? THAT CATWOMAN SUIT JUST SITS IN THE CLOSET AND COLLECTS DUST. Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer endure the good times and the bad in Rob Reiner's The Story of Us.
By Tara Dermastja
Do the highs of loving your children outweigh the lows of 15 years of fighting with your spouse? When do imperfections become annoyances too great to bear? When do schedules make spontaneity seem like a game too old to play?
These are questions audiences of Rob Reiner's new romantic drama, The Story of Us, will leave the theatre wondering.
Ben and Katie, played by Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer respectively, are a moderately cool couple living in marital bliss or so their children believe.
Almost perfectly content to spend two months away from their parents at camp, the departure of the kids makes it possible for Ben and Katie to abandon their charade of happiness and remain at a stubborn marital stalemate.
After many years of a seemingly perfect marriage, for Ben and Katie facing forward has become more comfortable than facing each other. The moments remembered by the couple are the only threads left of a love which was supposed to last forever. "Fighting becomes the condition rather than the option," Pfeiffer's character calmly states.
Directed by Reiner (When Harry Met Sally), this feature successfully explores the idea that there is no perfect marriage even with the strength of a family and the support of slightly misguided friends.
Proving not all Hollywood films resort to following a standard format, Reiner is not afraid to tell the story the way it really happens, while avoiding the usual romantic candy-coated fare.
The result is a strikingly candid look at the hard work it takes to keep a marriage together. The strong performances given by both Willis and Pfeiffer further help the effort along, by allowing the audience to truly identify with already likable characters and only take sides in the perpetual fighting when necessary.
In The Story of Us, the conflict certainly hits home. Movie-goers will no doubt relate to the frustration, sadness and times when running away makes more sense than confronting problems, especially in a time when divorce seems like second nature.
Along for the bumpy ride are Paul Reiser (Mad About You), Rita Wilson and Reiner himself, who combine for a trio of comic relief. While Reiser bluntly addresses the issue that cybersex is not infidelity, Wilson humorously explains the male and female approach to sex after an argument. Reiner also does an impressive job of educating viewers on what the "butt" actually is.
Rounding out the immediate cast are the children young Erin who has begun suspecting the worst about her parents and Josh, who faces the family's problems through humour rather than reality.
Overall, with the exception of a few moments which drag on and a little too much screaming, The Story of Us keeps viewers entertained. With an ensemble of experienced actors and the music of Eric Clapton, the outcome is admirable.
However, it should be noted that movie-goers waiting for a dose of "happily ever after" romance might not be entirely satisfied by this honest approach to the toil and tears needed to keep a marriage alive.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999