Crime is steadily declining and life is good, right? Well, not if you're
Heinrich Grigoris (Stanley Tucci) and your business is selling home security
alarms. Hatching a plan with his devious associate (Mary McCormack), Heinrich
hopes to spike business by occasionally tripping an alarm here, knocking
over a home there. And new sales stud Tommy (David Arquette), in his initial
exuberance over his early success, even goes along with the plan. Well,
until things begin to go a bit awry - Tommy's new flame Gale (Kate Capshaw)
ends up dead following a botched home burglary. Suddenly, an enraged Tommy
looks to point the finger and begins to question his boss' illicit activities.
Murder, intrigue, deception - sound a bit grim for a film billed as a comedy?
Actually, writer/director Evan Dunsky's "Life During WarTime"
is indeed dark, but it's extremely funny as well. Aside from his clever
dialogue (adapted from a short play), Dunsky's proudest accomplishment may
be in killing off a sympathetic character some three-quarters into the film
but not losing the audience or spoiling the tone in the least. With a smirk
and a nod, the self-billed noir comedy turns a simple storyline into an
exploration of a culture paralyzed by paranoia and fear, even when the
latest crime statistics show otherwise. Tucci and Arquette are first-rate
in constructing a believable relationship that effectively satirizes the
business world, and impressive newcomer Ryan Reynolds delivers some of "Life
During WarTime"'s heartiest laughs in his brief but hilarious turn
as Capshaw's son.
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