Private Life

Written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, Private Life follows married couple Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) and Richard (Paul Giamatti) as their relationship is seriously tested by their ongoing struggle to conceive a child. Filmmaker Jenkins has infused Private Life with a deliberately-paced and consistently subdued feel that complements her admittedly low-key screenplay quite well, with the movie’s atmosphere of palpable authenticity certainly heightened by the impressive, lived-in work from both Hahn and Giamatti. (And it’s clear, too, that the actors receive top-notch support from a periphery cast that includes Molly Shannon, John Carroll Lynch, and Denis O’Hare.) There’s little doubt, however, that the picture’s slow-moving sensibilities wind up highlighting the somewhat repetitive aspects of Jenkins’ script, as the bulk of Private Life‘s midsection concerns itself with the central character’s various attempts at bringing a child into their lives and, to a more pronounced extent, their ongoing (and increasingly vicious) arguments with one another – which ensures that the picture grows less and less involving as it progresses. It is, as such, apparent that the movie eventually confirms its place as a watchable yet arms-length drama that one admires more than one enjoys (ie the emotional impact of the film’s third act is seriously muted as a result of Jenkins’ matter-of-fact approach), although, by that same token, it does seem fairly obvious that Private Life remains a searing portrait of a couple consumed by their desire for children.

**1/2 out of ****

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