Suburbia is hell, and serious Hollywood movies from The Graduate to American Beauty have been there to point fingers on the lawns of the damned. Since Hell is eternal, every half-decade or so another shamesploitation classic emerges to bum out suburbanites and make Oscar happy. In this one from Todd (In the Bedroom) Field, ominous narration and rich cinematography layer suburban parents Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, and Jennifer Connelly in an artisanal-cheesy casserole of adultery and literary pretension. The award-worthy turn comes from Jackie Earle Haley, whose hapless sex offender, half Max Schreck, half garden gnome, has the film’s key moment, panicking a swimming pool on a hot day. Hysteria over nothing defines the film. As commentary on our time, it may be accurate. As movie drama, it isn’t so much overheated as reheated in the microwave on high.
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