Archive of films The Secret Lives of Dentists / The Secret Lives of Dentists

2002, 104 min

Section: Forum of Independents - Tribute to Alan Rudolph
Year: 2009

Based on Jane Smiley’s novella about a marital crisis, The Secret Lives of Dentists centers on an emotionally repressed husband (Campbell Scott) who fantasizes conversations with his most difficult patient (Denis Leary) to avoid confronting his wife (Hope Davis) whom he suspects is having an affair.


Playwright Craig Lucas’ solid adaptation of Jane Smiley’s compelling marital crisis novella The Age of Grief provides a rich source for director Rudolph’s cinematic flourishes, character improvisations and surprising insights that cut to the quick of truth. The 10-year marriage of dentists Dave and Dana Hurst (Campbell Scott and Hope Davis), professional partners and parents of three obstreperous little girls, has slipped from comfortable to cool. "I wish we were closer sometimes,” Dana laments, but at the office business is brisk, barely allowing for more than a quick inquiry about dinner and childcare arrangements, and home is realistically and painfully chaotic. Ironically, while the Hursts’ work requires them to be invasive, in their relationship, where it counts most, they are non-confrontational. When Dave starts to suspect there is another man in Dana’s life, he’s afraid to ask her for fear he will have to do something. At the height of his vulnerability, Dave’s problem patient (Denis Leary), a sarcastic trumpet player with serious relationship issues, leaves the real world to take up residence in Dave’s psyche, pushing Dave to act out in surprising ways. When the flu rips through the family and makes the madhouse of rampaging kids even crazier, the marriage crisis becomes a delirious fever dream. With unassuming empathy and clear-eyed maturity, Rudolph offers a powerful argument for the reasons people stray – and stay.


Arclight Films Australia
Building 22, Fox Studios Australia, Driver Avenue, NSW 2021, Moore Park
Tel: +61 2 835 324 40

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Forum of Independents - Tribute to Alan Rudolph
Director: Alan Rudolph
Screenplay: Craig Lucas podle novely Jane Smileyové Věk smutku / based on the novel The Age of Grief by Jane Smiley
Dir. of Photography: Florian Ballhaus
Music: Gary DeMichele
Editor: Andy Keir
Producer: Campbell Scott, George VanBuskirk
Production: Holedigger Films
Cast: Campbell Scott, Denis Leary, Robin Tunney, Peter Samuel, Hope Davis, Jon Patrick Walker, Gianna Beleno, Lydia Jordan, Cassidy Hinkle
Contact: Arclight Films Australia


Alan Rudolph

Film Director

Alissa Simon

Festival Organizer, Journalist


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