Screened as part of NZIFF 2003
The Secret Lives of Dentists is a fresh, ruefully funny celebration of marriage and child-rearing built on a shrewd comprehension of the compromises that marriage can entail. Campbell Scott and Hope Davis, ideally cast, play the Hursts, married dentists who operate a practice together. He’s rather buttoned up. She’s a much softer touch. But at home – and what a very nice home it is – he’s a great father to their three young daughters. The hook here, the ‘secret’, is that he suspects she’s having an affair, but he’s so committed to wedlock that he refuses to confront her about it. We watch as husband and wife skirt around his growing suspicion, while admitting in myriad indirect ways that there is a problem. (Denis Leary periodically disrupts the delicate suspense as Scott’s self-appointed anti-emasculation officer.) The film’s tour de force is a breathlessly extended sequence during which all five Hursts, one by one, go down with the stomach flu. Laugh though you may, it’s a truer, more potent assertion of family values than Hollywood ever dreamt of.