Ginger Nuts of Horror
A Good Marriage is exactly that, it's a good marriage of a good story adapted into a good screenplay with good acting from a good cast making a film which is simply just… Good. Taken by the author from the story of the same name in Stephen King's collection 'Full Dark – No Stars' this movie steers away from his more familiar offerings of killer clowns, demon vehicles and apocalyptic nightmares toward a much gentler and more natural horror such as he has given us before with the likes of 'Dolores Claiborne' and 'Misery'.
This story concerns the good marriage of Bob and Darcy Anderson (Anthony LaPaglia and Joan Allen) whom after 27 years couldn't be happier, they are in fact the perfect couple, having grown together to become not only life partners but business partners too in the specialized field of coin-collecting/dealing which Bob does as a sideline to his regular job as a corporate accountant. This highly respected pillar of the community is a family man and an all-round nice guy.
But wait… This is a Stephen King offering, so we can expect some element of horror right? Right!
Bob actually has a third string to his bow; he's a serial killer going by the name 'Beadie'. His death toll so far stands at a dozen young women whom he captures, mutilates, murders and then taunts the police by sending them his victims' ID cards. By pure chance Darcy discovers a set of ID Cards belonging to 'Beadie's' latest victim which Bob had hidden away in their garage. Bob, suspecting that Darcy is on to him, comes home early from a business trip and checks out his hiding place, only to discover that things have moved and so confronts Darcy with the awful truth about Beadie.
The true horror of 'A Good Marriage' isn't so much in Bob's secret life as a serial killer, but in Darcy's ignorance of it for so long and the plight she faces in dealing with the all too real possibility that Bob could kill her at any time. Her reactions are understandable as she fears for her life and those of her grown up children and it does present a highly plausible scenario under which it is possible for someone to have a duality of lifestyle which succeeds at keeping them beyond suspicion even to the extent that loved ones would learn to live with the most hideous secrets in order to maintain an apparent level of social perfection. As it is loosely inspired by a true story it is hardly surprising that Stephen King has once again given us a peek into the hidden realities of suburban life with an 'it could happen to you' authority too little seen these days.
Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) does a fine job of lending an air of the ordinary to his role of Bob, but the true star here is Joan Allen (The Killing), she carries the bulk of the film with such precision in her various emotional twists and turns that she is thoroughly convincing throughout. Her portrayal here is somewhat reminiscent of her role in 'Pleasantville' in which her awakening is of an altogether different variety. There are several minor roles for supporting characters, many of which are low-key but notable among them is retired Detective Holt Ramsay (A rare 'good guy' role for the normally Bad-Ass Stephen Lang) a three-quarters-dead cop who believes Darcy is as guilty as Bob.
Overall this movie delivers a painstaking swipe at the American Dream, the almost over-sanitized lifestyle of Bob and Darcy juxtaposes smartly with the news reports and crime scene photographs. The tension builds nicely to a darkly subtle denouement with the certainty that nobody involved has truly got away with anything.
A Good Marriage IS a good movie.
Available now on DVD.