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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Autumn 2014

Better Living Through Chemistry (2014) movie review

Feel the Chemical Burn

Doug Varney (Sam Rockwell) is a nice guy. He's the town pharmacist and he knows people's (medical) secrets. His wife has taken to overachievement and ruling him with barely benign strictness. His father-in-law is so controlling Varney's shop is still named for him (the previous owner). But all that changes when Varney becomes involved with a local trophy wife Elizabeth Roberts (Olivia Wilde).

So, first of all, we have to accept that nice guys cheat on their wives (with a good excuse). Then we have to accept that taking a deep dip into his inventory still makes Varney a likeable person.

Most of Better Living Through Chemistry is either portraying an unsuccessful marriage, or Varney's descent into the complications of illicit sex and drugs.

movie poster, Better Living Through Chemistry, Festivale film review; 220x326

Movie poster, Better Living Through Chemistry
Happiness has no formula.

Naturally the question of how to extricate themselves from their respective marriage is raised by Varney and Elisabeth. And equally expectedly, there are going to be consequences from Varney's depredations.

The film is watchable, and tends to keep the pace up, but how much the audience wants Varney to win out is probably reflected in whether they find what he does to be noble or a bit despicable.

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by Ali Kayn
Australian release 14 March 2014
For credits and official site details, see below
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Just the facts:

Title: Better Living Through Chemistry (2014)
Written by: Geoff Moore & David Posamentier
Directed by: Geoff Moore & David Posamentier
Running time: 91 mins

The Players: Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde,

Official website:
IMDb entry

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