Sundance Review: PRIVATE LIFE is a Perfect Sundance Film, But Not For Casual Movie Goers

When I heard Paul Giamatti was in a Indy film at Sundance, I was astonished. That sort of thing NEVER happens. He only does big blockbuster films. For those of you who can’t tell, I was being sarcastic just then. Yeah. Sarcasm. Well, this year, he’s in a few Indy films at Sundance, and one of the first ones they revealed was Private Lives.

Private Lives stars Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as a couple who really wants to have kids either through fertility therapies or adoption. Sounds hilarious right? What sort of Hijinx are they gonna get into? Kidnap a kid? Eat a Watermelon seed? Nah. Mostly it’s them trying something and it not working and then trying something else. Like a really depressing version of Tom and Jerry.

There is some solid acting, and it really shows the drama chops of the actors involved, but if you get squeamish around people making choices that you know will make other people upset and you’re just waiting for something to go wrong, this is not the movie for you. There were many times I wanted to leave because I couldn’t bear the empathic stress! 

The movie itself is a little long. There are many things that could have been cut that would have made the film move along a little quicker, but the movie does manage to do something interesting that makes watching the movie almost like an experience. They go through many different ways to try to have children and sacrifice a lot. So much so, that whenever they get their hopes up and fail, you feel it with them. I have had family members go through experiences similar, and the feeling of loss and hopelessness can seem very real. The movie sets itself up in such a way that by the end they’ve had so much taken away that you just want something good to happen, and you just end up waiting with them. Hoping for a good future despite the rough present. 

It has a good message overall with some powerful performances and scenes throughout. It makes me realize that it’s not always to dwell in the moment but rather live in the hope of the future. If you like an indy drama that makes you contemplate life with a couple of laughs, check it out. If you are looking for something to make you relax and have fun, maybe skip this one.

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