Indie-film exec Jeff Lipsky's sophomore feature as writer-director shares with his distribution work a desire to restore some of the untidier virtues of '70s American film. For one thing, that means the well-off thirtysomething couple in this epic study of a relationship's slow deteriorationfrom horniness to marriage and consensual masturbation in place of sexspends less time charming its bourgeois audience than making it squirm in unflattering recognition. Money, believably, drives a wedge between PR spinmaster Stuart (Justin Kirk) and the underachieving Nicole (Julianne Nicholson), yet Lipsky, to his credit, portrays everything in the relationship family planning not leastas a kind of minutely calculated business transaction. (Peeing in the tub can be forgiven, but not debt.) At a full two hours, Lipsky's talky movie is more compelling in its second half, when the spouses finally get around to being themselves. "You never used to talk to me like this when we were dating," says Nicole. "Were you just censoring yourself back then?"
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