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THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS

They’re married, have three kids, and they’re in the same line of business. But that doesn’t automatically make these dentists a loving couple--especially after hubby spots his wife in an embrace with another man.

CAST: Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Denis Leary, Robin Tunney, Gianna Beleno, Cassidy Hinkle, Lydia Jordan, Jon Patrick Walker, Kevin Carroll, Kate Clinton

DIRECTOR: Alan Rudolph

"‘The Secret Lives of Dentists,’ directed by Alan Rudolph and adapted by Craig Lucas from Jane Smiley’s novella ‘The Age of Grief,’ is refreshingly uncategorizable: It’s somewhere between a marital-discord drama and a mystery thriller, but it also has its madcap moments…Hope Davis has never been more sensuously alive than she is here. She makes smartness sexy… Campbell Scott, a virtuoso at bringing out the depth charges in a character’s tics and fidgets, is the perfect actor to play the tightly wound David. When he first becomes aware of the adultery, he seems weak-willed and recessive; we want him to hunt down clues, confront Dana. But gradually, we realize what is at stake for him—not his secret life but his real one—and he gains our sympathy and respect…His unspoken turmoil speaks volumes." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"Working from the pungent script Craig Lucas has crafted from Jane Smiley's novel ‘The Age of Grief,’ Alan Rudolph (‘Choose Me’) does his best work in years…The film handles the hard realities of family life -- the scene when all the Hursts get the flu is nightmarish farce -- without losing its shimmering mystery. Scott and Davis could not be better. You're in for something special." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"While dentists are often perceived as stolid, humorless, self-doubting bores who would rather paint the bathroom white than paint the town red, this movie does nothing to change that concept…these are stale people, and visiting them in their stagnant home is as joyless an experience as a trip to a periodontist…Ms. Davis and Mr. Scott give better performances than this movie deserves, but she’s passive and close-mouthed and he’s too anal-retentive to probe. It gets rather frustrating just watching them stare each other into divorce court… The blame for the intense doldrums in ‘The Secret Lives of Dentists’ lies with the tepid, stagnant direction by Alan Rudolph, a hack who, like the late, unlamented Otto Preminger, mysteriously continues, in film after film, to attract big stars, wear them down until they do their worst work, and drag out a career of mediocrity far beyond the law of diminishing returns." --Rex Reed, The New York Observer

"Idiosyncratic indie director Alan Rudolph (‘The Moderns,’ ‘Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle’) does a fine job of illustrating the way a kernel of suspicion can swell to proportions that block out the sun. But the flimsy screenplay, adapted by Craig Lucas, betrays its diminutive origins — a novella by Jane Smiley called ‘The Age of Grief.’ Lacking a solid narrative beyond the worsening marital crisis, this humor-flecked domestic drama ends up relying heavily on directorial tricks such as splashes of magic realism, giving it a self-satisfied air that quickly becomes grating…Still, there's pleasure to be had just in watching the hugely talented Scott and Davis being put through their paces by a director who holds actors in high regard." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

"Mr. Rudolph makes the chaos of middle-class life — and the almost anachronistic longings Dave has over the path not taken — the epicenter of ‘Dentists.’ Mr. Scott's cautious warmth makes Dave a winningly complicated figure…Dave is a twittering mass of anxiety, and Mr. Scott plays his neurotic correctness as if he were plucking an upright bass in an echo chamber. The throbbing notes reverberate throughout the Hurst household…some of the film doesn't feel entirely new, and chunks of Dave's voice-over are a little overbearing. Yet it's the adult tone that Mr. Rudolph brings to the movie — including a hint of an indulgent and slightly shamed simpatico with his protagonist — that makes this picture more than a pile of nuked clichés." --Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

"… a film with an uncanny feeling for the rhythms of daily life, acted by Scott and Davis with attention to those small inflections of speech that can turn words into weapons. There is also a lot of physical acting; the youngest child, in particular, has a great need to be held and touched and hauled around in her parents' arms. And then there are the five days of the flu, as first one and then another family member develops a fever and starts throwing up. Scott is wonderful here in the way he shows his character caring for the family while coming apart inside…To introduce Slater's imaginary presence is a risk, and a reach, and I suppose deserves credit, especially since Leary plays the character about as well as he can probably be played. But I wanted less, in a way. I wanted to lose the whole fantasy overlay and stay with the movie's strength, which is to show the everyday life of a family in crisis…‘The Secret Lives of Dentists’ tries hard to be a good film, but if it had relaxed a little, it might have been great." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"In ‘The Secret Lives of Dentists’ Alan Rudolph sketches a portrait of a seemingly idyllic marriage with briskness, economy, wit and grace… a stylish work from an accomplished, sophisticated filmmaker that bristles with intelligence and gleams with Scott's and Davis' multifaceted, astutely judged portrayals…‘The Secret Lives of Dentists’ does not pack a wallop nor it is it intended to. It instead offers the rarer pleasures of insight and contemplation in its depiction of decent people attempting to deal with life like adults." --Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times

"To say that ‘The Secret Lives of Dentists’ is more style than substance is hardly a dis of Alan Rudolph, a director who has always believed that style was substance. From ‘Choose Me’ to ‘The Moderns’ to the much-disparaged ‘Trixie,’ artifice has meant truth for Rudolph, a modern himself…‘Dentists’ is also Rudolph's most accessible film in years, largely because it homes in so sharply and sympathetically on such an amorphous and unhysterical (but at the same time transcendent) subject…’The Secret Lives of Dentists’ may be a hard movie to like and a harder movie to love, but it knows itself so well that it's an impossible one to dismiss." --John Anderson, Newsday

"Part of the joke in making the Hursts dentists is that they are professionally invasive; they spend their days fastidiously exploring their patients' inner recesses and dispassionately probing painful cavities within. At once abstract and evocative, the movie's opening dentist's-eye view of oral hygiene sets the tone for the inquiry that follows…If the movie is less touching than it might have been, it is not because Davis and Campbell are so persuasively cool in their roles. Unlike those in the not dissimilar ‘American Beauty,’ ‘Dentists'’ characters are needier than the actors who play them—and therein lies the problem…As involving as it often is, the movie feels emotionally distant precisely because Rudolph overshadows his other principals by cranking up the volume on Dave's rage." --J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"Rudolph's depiction of everyday marital despair is sharply observant. A stomach flu rages through the household, also afflicting the couple's three daughters, making physical the emotional discord that ails everyone. This realistic-seeming family is trapped together in the sick house as if an intervention were taking place: Make this clan well or die together trying. Ultimately, it's a compassionate view of marriage and its stressors. But the filmmaker and actors do their jobs only too well. Watching ‘Secret Lives’ can be as uncomfortable as sitting in the dentist's chair." Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News