Adapted from two stories by André Dubus (author of the source material for ‘In The Bedroom’), this is a tough but tender – and pleasingly non-judgmental – account of adultery and its effects on two marriages. Jack (Mark Ruffalo) and Hank (Peter Krause) both teach English at a college in a small, peaceful New England town; in many respects their lives are similar, but their wives are very different: Terry (Laura Dern) is volatile and, as Jack often feels moved to point out, not the most efficient of housekeepers, whereas Edith (Naomi Watts) seems calm, confident and capable of keeping a home quiet enough for Hank to write. They are all close friends, however, and hang out together whenever babysitters are available – until Jack and Edith embark on an affair, at which point, guilt, anxiety, suspicion, resentment, recrimination and revenge begin to take their toll on all four… As scripted by Larry Gross, the film offers an unusually balanced and insightful look at an emotional maelstrom, less concerned with any notions of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ than with exploring the bewildering blend of contradictory feelings and thoughts that can give rise to or result from infidelity. All four central performances are notable for their courage and expertise, and some scenes attain a ferocious intensity as they reveal the characters’ capacity to hurt one another. Strong stuff, then, and one of the most mature movies to emerge from America this year.