Eye For Film >> Movies >> Ex-Husbands (2023) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
You could be forgiven for feeling as though you’ve stepped back in time while watching Noah Pritzker’s middling, middle-class, midlife crisis comedy. There’s a sweet-hearted but dated dad rock quality to this tale that revolves around the men in a single family and their relationship woes that transports you to the mid-90s era of Billy Crystal vehicles.
The plot revolves around the family of Peter Pearce (Griffen Dunne), who, in a prologue-of-sorts, is seen trying to convince his elderly father (Richard Benjamin) not to divorce his mother, while his older son Nick (James Norton) is enjoying a meet-cute moment with his co-worker Thea (Rachel Zeiger-Haag). Fast-forward six years and Peter is the one with no ring on his finger, his father’s intentions to “play the field” for 25 years have crashed against the reality of dementia and Nick is about to tie the knot with Thea.
Nick is on the brink of a stag-do getaway to Tulum, Mexico with his younger brother Mickey (Miles Heizer) and some pals, when it turns out Peter has booked to go to the same place in a bid to shake off the blues at having to sign the divorce papers from wife Maria (Rosanna Arquette, who previously starred with Dunne in After Hours). It’s a classic set-up and Pritzker achieves it economically but from then on a story that begs for the wit and verve of the likes of Noah Baumbach and Woody Allen suffers from pace that is more on a stroll than a roll.
At the resort, Nick becomes the most gloomy groom on record, even as his pals party around him. They are all so thinly drawn that they’re almost interchangeable save for Lowry (Simon Van Buyten), a party animal whom Peter dislikes, and Arroyo (Pedro Fontaine), who despite his own status being straight and married embarks on a liaison with Mickey, who has not long announced his gay status and is taking tentative steps in the dating world.
Much more interesting is what is happening to Peter, who has met Eileen (Eisa Davis, packing heat), a wedding guest elsewhere, that blooms into an amicable, if rather safe, flirtation. Dunne is the main event with his charming portrayal avoiding the usual swings either into brashness or moroseness that often dogs these sort of comedies. But there’s a constant sense of Pritzker pulling back from moments that could and should hold more drama. That’s partially due to Norton’s very internalised performance that never quite gels with what’s happening around him.
While coincidence is part and parcel of this sort of film, Pritzker’s script feels as though its stepping from one to another rather than flowing between its scenarios and Rob Coudert’s overly present score only adds to the stodgy, syrupy feel. A return to New York delivers some much needed emotional weight and, finally, a bit more acidity to the humour, but Pritker still feels as though he’s going through the motions of other, better films, and quite slowly at that.Reviewed on: 13 Oct 2023