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The Secret Lives Of Dentists

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Judy Thorburn

The Secret Lives Of Dentists

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

A MARRIAGE DECAYS IN “THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS”

Going to the dentist has to be up there on the list as one of the most dreaded things anyone has to do. There you are, sitting in his chair, with your mouth open, and your teeth and gums vulnerable to a person with the ability of causing you major pain and discomfort.  We all know what’s going on inside our mind.  We arrive at a dental appointment thinking let’s get this over with, as quickly and painless as possible.  But, did you ever wonder what is going on in your doctor’s head while he’s skillfully maneuvering around your molars and bicuspids?  The Secret Lives of Dentists gives the audience a glimpse into the mind and private life of one such dentist, which we see is not as sterile as his office environment, but just as uncomfortable as going to an appointment.

Adapted from Jane Smiley’s book, The Age of Grief, by screenwriter Craig Lucas, (Prelude to a Kiss), The Secret Lives of Dentists is about the dysfunctional relationship between married dentists David and Dana Hurst, and its reverberations, seen from the husband’s point of view.  David (Campbell Scott, son of George C) is the more nurturing parent to his three young daughters, preparing meals, driving them to school, etc., while his wife seems preoccupied, working late or running errands.  David is the passive type, devoted to his work and family while Dana  (Hope Davis, About Schmidt) seems to want more out of life than being a dentist, wife or mother. The focus of the story is the way David struggles to cope and keep his marriage together, after he accidentally witnesses Dana in the arms of another man, backstage at her debut in an amateur opera production.   David becomes a man who secretly imagines his wife in sexual situations, but prefers to avoid confrontations with her, while he inwardly is coming undone. When Dana makes an attempt to talk to David in bed, he chooses to ignore the subject by pretending to be asleep. As a byproduct of the surmounting tension, we see how the children react to the anxiety in the air. It’s an uncomfortable setting that also transfers to the audience.

Emotionally repressed, David finds a key in obnoxious patient, Slater (perfectly cast, Denis Leary) an outspoken man who has no problem approaching David, in front of the opera’s audience, and voicing a complaint about a botched filling.  Slater is a man who says what ever he feels, and as such, becomes utilized as the inner voice, an imaginary presence, or alter ego for David to express what he cannot outwardly say.  Slater pops up in fantasy segments everywhere, be it at the Hurst’s country house, in the kitchen, car, or even under the bed, expounding his own brand of devilish advice mixed with anger. It’s his biting, yet humorous input that adds some comedy to this, otherwise, dramatic story.

The problem is that while marital problems, infidelity, parenting, and lack of communication are issues many husbands and wives can relate to, this movie lacks compassion for the characters.  Although effectively acted by Campbell Scott (who should finally get the recognition he deserves), one never gets to understand when and why Dana fell out of love for her husband. David expresses his love for Dana verbally and sexually, and just wishes for her to reciprocate.  But, Dana is cold and distant.  Married for ten years, David and Dana are seen as a happy and fun loving couple, in flashbacks to earlier times. What caused their lack of communication?  It’s never revealed.  So, he didn’t react to her singing during breakfast. It’s not like he didn’t show up at her opera production, with the kids in tow.   It takes a near catastrophic bout of the flu, where the devoted David takes relentless control in care giving for his family, under the worst and disgusting situations, for Dana’s realization to sink in.  But, really! One projectile puke scene was enough. Did we really have to experience repetitive graphic cases of vomiting?  This was totally unnecessary. We got the message. One more throw up and I would have joined in.

The question is - is it worth your time and money to sit through a movie about a disintegrating marriage that you may have trouble caring about? Sure, the acting is impressive. But, I had could not connect emotionally with these people. They are successful, intellectual, good-looking, AND have their health. What’s the problem?  I need something more to sink my teeth into for recommendation.  The Secret Lives of Dentists is like a shot of Novocain.  I walked out bored, barely feeling a thing.

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