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'A Good Marriage' a wry, old-fashioned game of cat and mouse

'A Good Marriage' a wry, old-fashioned game of cat and mouse
A scene from "A Good Marriage." (Handout)

After 25 happily wedded years, you discover that your coin-collecting accountant husband is a serial killer. What's a loyal if terrified wife to do?

Such is the dilemma for Darcy Anderson (Joan Allen) in Stephen King's "A Good Marriage," a wry, old-fashioned thriller adapted by King from his short story.

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Early on, when Darcy blows hubby Bob's (Anthony LaPaglia) cover, he's seemingly content to continue playing the dutiful spouse. After all, he and Darcy are role models for their friends and neighbors, have fine relationships with their adult children (Kristen Connolly, Theo Stockman) and enjoy connubial coziness in their lovely Maine home. And though Bob admits he may not be able to control his murderous alter ego known as Beadie, he promises not to harm Darcy. Does Darcy believe him? Do we?

Director Peter Askin ("Trumbo") unfurls this intriguing story with a deliberate pace that gives way to a tighter, more involving second half. That there are limited characters and locations eventually works in the film's favor as the tension mounts and the script homes in on Darcy's not unexpected, yet cleverly maneuvered "handling" of the erratic Bob.

Still, less dependence on dream sequences and fantasy bits and a grittier approach to the story's procedural elements would have been welcomed.

Seasoned pros Allen and LaPaglia are terrific as longtime mates forged together in an unexpected game of cat and mouse. Stephen Lang is also memorable in a small but pivotal role as a retired investigator tracking the Andersons.

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"A Good Marriage."

MPAA rating: R for violence, disturbing images, sexuality, language.

Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood. Also on VOD.

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