Although it has some commitment issues in terms of wanting to be both a probing domestic drama and a flat-out thriller, Aaron Harvey’s “The Neighbor” finds a sturdy constant in its thoughtfully delineated performances and handsome production values.
Resilient character actor William Fichtner gives an affectingly reined-in turn as Mike Prentice, a low-key technical writer whose marriage to school teacher Lisa (Jean Louisa Kelly) no longer has the same sparkle as the stainless steel appliances in their upscale kitchen.
But those telltale fissures in their relationship are cracked wide open when an attractive young couple (Jessica McNamee and Michael Rosenbaum) lease the house next door, with the arrival of the former serving to seriously fan the flames of Mike’s smoldering midlife crisis.
Considering the many similarly themed films that have come before it (Europe alone has contributed a steady supply over the years), one has a pretty good sense of where the script by director Harvey and Richard Byard is headed, but the actors still manage to work in some intriguing complication along the way.
Even if the storytelling eventually succumbs to an ending that feels like it crossed needlessly into a different genre, Harvey’s contained direction and John W. Rutland’s impressive cinematography provide a sharply observed continuity that’s as admirably contained as the Prentices’ impeccably appointed, if spiritually anemic, home.
Rated: R for language, sexual content, brief violence and drug use
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Playing: AMC Orange 30, Orange