March 11, 2011
The 1980’s were quite possibly the last decade that Hollywood produced decent character-driven dramas for adults. In the 1990’s, visual spectacles based on comic books, television shows, and so on that were enhanced by special effects became the norm. Character-driven material became the domain of independent cinema. It has gotten even more extreme when movie stars like Liev Schreiber and Helen Hunt headline a film like Every Day (2010) only for it to receive virtually no distribution and then quietly released on home video. This film would have been a mainstay in the multiplexes 20-30 years ago, which in of itself is a sad commentary on the state of American cinema.
Ned (Schreiber) is a television writer whose boss (Izzard) is always looking for something shocking to put on his show and pressures him to finish a script in a few days. Ned’s sexy co-worker Robin (Gugino) is assigned to help him with rewrites and proves to be quite a distraction with her drop-dead gorgeous looks. At home, Ned’s gay teenage son Jonah (Miller) wants to go to his first gay dance, and his wife Jeannie (Hunt) brings home her elderly father Ernie (Dennehy) because he can no longer take care of himself. To top it all off, Ned’s marriage to Jeannie is lacking that spark as they’ve settled into a comfortable routine, which is subsequently shattered by the tension of having to deal with Ernie. How will Ned deal with the conflict between work and home?
Writer/director Richard Levine (Nip/Tuck) comes from a television background and, as a result, the narrative beats of Every Day feel like an hour-long drama stretched out to feature-length. He also trots out the stereotypes we’ve seen before, like the sarcastic son, the harried wife, and the gruff father who curses like a truck driver. Fortunately, Levine’s cast of talented actors do their best to breathe life into their characters and give them some depth.
Liev Schreiber does a good job of portraying a decent guy trying to juggle a demanding job with a stressful home life without losing his mind or his marriage. His flirtatious co-worker certainly doesn’t help matters. How Ned deals with her says a lot about his character and where his priorities in life are. Ned uses humor to deflect and deal with the stress of every day life and it humanizes him as it is something that many of us do to get through the day. The scenes between him and Jonah are some of the strongest as Ned is forced to confront his feelings about his son’s homosexuality.
Helen Hunt is also good as the beleaguered wife forced to take care of her ailing father. Jeannie is clearly frustrated with having to sacrifice her career in order to look after her family. One gets the feeling that she resents Ned for getting to work and not being present for things, like their younger son’s recital or helping take care of her father. Hunt shows the emotional toll that this takes on her character.
Every Day shows the messiness of life where you have a job you don’t like, kids you don’t understand, and parents that drive you crazy. It takes a lot of strength and courage to deal with it all and it helps to have someone you can rely on – a spouse that trusts and loves you – through good and bad times. It is this strong streak of humanity that runs through Levine’s film that is its strongest asset.
“Cast Interview” features Levine explaining just how autobiographical Every Day is while the cast praise the authentic nature of their characters. Both Brian Dennehy and Liev Schreiber talk about the theatrical nature of the screenplay.
Also included are seven deleted scenes that give more screen time to Ned’s children, like a nice scene where the talk about death. We also see Jonah at school, which provides a bit more insight into his life. There is also a nice scene between Ned and Jeannie.
Finally, there is a trailer.