This riveting drama, similar in spirit to The Spanish Prisoner, has been adapted for the screen by David Gilman from his one-act play Ghost in The Machine. Director Jonathan Kaufer has drawn out smashing performances from the four lead characters.
Wes (David Strathairn) and Nancy (Bonnie Bedelia) are childless Cambridge, Massachusetts, academics locked in an unsatisfying middle-age marriage. Wes has just learned that the girls' finishing school where he teaches comparative religion has denied him tenure. Now Matt (Saul Rubinek), Nancy's old flame, is arriving for a four-day visit with his companion Kim (Caroleen Feeney), a computer wiz. He is a musicologist who has been invited to deliver a lecture at Harvard on the work of a contemporary Vietnamese composer. With Kim's help, he has discovered a refrain from Martin Luther's "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" in the work of this young artist. Is it a computer glitch, an act of God, or a hoax?
The answer may lie with Kim, a free-spirited and sexually provocative woman who loves playing games and pushing peoples' buttons. After Wes notices that $50 is missing, the two couples' civilized banter turns sour. They descend into a down-and-dirty encounter with each other's vulnerabilities. At stake are the trustworthiness of Kim, the marital fidelity of Wes, the devotion of Nancy, and the integrity of Matt. Bad Manners is an ethical tour de force.