Stephen King’s A Good Marriage (2014) Joan Hall Captivates Completely

Still from A Good Marriage with Joan Hall
Based on a Stephen King story, from his 2010 collection Full Dark, No Stars. A Good Marriage stars Joan Hall (Death Race, The Bourne Legacy), Anthony LaPaglia (Crazy Kind of Love, Mental), Kristen Connelly (Cabin in the woods, The Whispers) and Stephen Lang (Avatar, Conan the Barbarian) and is directed by Peter Askin (Trumbo, Company Man) and King himself adapted the story into a screenplay.

This is the first time since the 1989 film Pet Semetary that King has adapted his own work. In his novella, Darcy Anderson discovers that her “perfect” husband is, in fact, a notorious serial killer. She accidentally finds a box of trophy objects from the murders and she decides to take things into her own hands rather than contact the police.

In the film, Joan Allen captivates completely as the older partner who finds that her loving husband has a killer inside of him. Another personality called Beadie, who rapes, tortures and kills women and has done so for years. Allen shows every emotion that her character is going through on her face, not comically but subtly with just enough of a “tell” that we know what she is thinking.

The horror, shame, disgust and fear all mingle on her face and in her actions. Anthony LaPaglia, as Bob, is also impressively sinister and smarmy. The audience do not believe that he will stop for one moment. In one dream sequence, which seems frighteningly real, it is apparent that Darcy does not really think he will quit killing either.

The very fact that her husband has managed to keep this secret from her and their two kids for 12 years indicates a man who is obsessed. His workshop screams OCD, everything put neatly in its place, even his “evidence” box is specifically placed, which is how he knows that Darcy now knows his secret. Stephen Lang, as the retired detective, hovers about in the background ominously and later shows up to reveal that he knows that Bob Anderson was Beadie.

For those who have read the King novella, the story will already be familiar. That will not spoil the film though. Peter Askin does a great job keeping that other shoe dangling tantalizingly in the air as we wait for Darcy to decide how she is going to deal with this horrific discovery. The sly underlying horror is still in the movie.

The fact that her sick husband believes that everything will be fine and that she will accept his promise to never kill again shows just how far gone this “split personality” killer was. His glib explanation that he never killed anyone, that it was his dead friend Brian, aka BD, rolls off his tongue while Darcy listens in growing horror.

Stephen Lang’s Holt Ramsay rules the screen when he finally makes his appearance. His doomed ex-investigator, who clearly has lung cancer that is rapidly killing him, is a scene stealer. A Good Marriage is, however, Joan Hall’s film. She nails her performance and is so thoroughly convincing that she is reminiscent of the late great Geraldine Page in top form.

A splendid little film with spotless performances from its stars and a first rate adaptation from the master himself. Director Askin does a brilliant job as well; he is not afraid to have silence versus a score in a tense or emotional scene. A real 4 out of 5 star film available on US Netflix.