Director: Alan Rudolph
On the surface, David and Dana Hurst appear to be living the American dream. They are successful dentists who share a practice; they have been married for ten years and have three young daughters; they have a home in the suburbs and another in the country.
Under the surface, all is not well. Dana (Hope Davis) is unhappy with the lack of intimacy in their marriage, so she tries to fulfill her passions in other ways. David (Campbell Scott) witnesses his wife in the embrace of another man but chooses not to confront her about it. As a result, Dana, David, and their children go through the motions of being a happy family, even though no one in the family seems happy.
David illustrates several conflict management styles: avoidance, accommodation, passive aggression, direct aggression, and compromise. The one style he never employs is assertiveness, because he believes that directly confronting Dana would only lead to bigger problems. He sees many risks, but not many benefits, in disclosing what he knows and feels about Dana's lack of commitment to their marriage. In terms of relational dialectics, the couple seems resigned to a relationship of autonomy, predictability, and closedness, while they long for connection, novelty, and openness - either with each other or with someone else.
The movie's ending provides no clear verdict on whether the choices David and Dana make are good ones. It's possible that they were wise to "weather the storm" by avoiding their conflict and letting it pass. However, it seems likely that they will encounter similar storms in the futureuntil and unless they are willing to deal with their conflicts more openly, assertively, and productively.