Sunday, December 16, 2018

Private Life: Movie Review

Hilariously flawed people going through life.
Private Life is a bitter-sweet exploration of a marriage and two people’s struggles to conceive. I know from that description that you might assume that the movie would drag on, that it might not offer anything new to the thousands of characters that have struggled with those issues in many movies that came before this one. But this one is different, trust me. There’s a sharp wit to these characters who are very true to themselves. 2018

Directed by: Tamara Jenkins

Screenplay by: Tamara Jenkins

Starring: Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti

Some of these characters (Kathryn Hahn’s Rachel and John Carroll Lynch’s Charlie) are very humanized – these are real people who you probably personally know. The rest of the characters are perfect mixes of people who you hope are only in movies but are probably real too. Richard, Rachel’s husband (played by Paul Giamatti), dutifully follows all the rules associated with the various fertility methods they try, but does not do so without complaining. Sister-in-law Cynthia (Molly Shannon) only shows up when she can pass judgement on other people’s actions. When she’s accused of being judgemental, she just amps up her judgement quotient for the day.

Last, but not least, we have the character that ties all these people together. Straight out of a liberal arts college where she successfully convinced the school to allow her to finish her degree in absentia, Sadie (Kayli Carter) comes crawling into Rachel and Richard’s home. She’s their step-niece and needs a place to stay while she continues her suffering of extreme teenage angst—which includes: her mother (Cynthia) doesn’t understand her, her classmates are all idiots, a structured life does not allow her to realize her true creative genius potential. She gives backwards compliments insulting her hosts, but Sadie also represents new-found hope to their fertility problems.

Private Life is rife with characters who are on the cusp on making really bad decisions (the perfect base for comedy) but always end up staying true to themselves allowing for growth, introspection and the opportunity to mature from these probably-not-a-good-idea moments. Kathryn Hahn does all the heavy lifting; the depth and humanity that she gives to Rachel is the emotional base for the film. By the end, you really will care for these people despite their mistakes; like family, they should be embraced for their flaws – it's what makes us human.

This movie was a joyful experience. Lots of laughs, very few tears, and a surprising amount of anxiety – that’s what happens you get emotionally-invested in hilariously flawed people.