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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
The Story of Us
Directed by Rob Reiner
Universal 10/99 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - language and brief sexuality
A marriage is not a static state. It continuously takes on new shapes and forms as partners age and change. A couple may be years into it before they realize that the expectations they brought to this union and the assumptions they hold about each other are not wearing well.
Ben (Bruce Willis) and Katie (Michelle Pfeiffer) Jordan are a California couple with two children who have reached a crossroads in their marriage after fifteen years. He is a writer who goes with the flow of his feelings and loves the anarchy of playfulness. She is a designer of crossword puzzles who has a need for order and propriety in her life. Unable to fully accept each other's personalities and prone to replaying old behavioral tapes, they have, as one of them notes in a voiceover, made a "silent retreat to neutral corners." While the kids are off at camp, they separate, postponing the actual announcement of the impending divorce until the end of the summer.
This romantic drama-spiced with many funny bits is fluidly directed by Rob Reiner; he and Rita Wilson play the couple's best friends. Through a series of well choreographed flashbacks, we learn of Ben and Katie's initial attraction to each other, vituperative arguments, mutual love and care of their kids, less than useful encounters with a series of therapists, abortive attempt to renew their marriage with a romantic trip to Venice, and the problematic presence of their parents in their relationship (humorously depicted by having the six of them in bed together, all talking at the same time).
Screenplay writers Alan Zweibel and Jessie Nelson lightheartedly convey some of the different seasons of a marriage. Staying the course despite relationship fatigue and a waning of sexual interest takes a special kind of courage and patience. But as The Story of Us demonstrates, love can be renewed even after a period of acute spiritual dryness.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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