Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35

Critic Reviews

  1. Don't let unpleasant personal dental associations stand in the way of seeing a luminous specimen of independent filmmaking.
  2. One of the best pictures so far this year, marking a high point of Rudolph's career and reconfirming the extraordinary talent Mr. Campbell has shown in earlier films. Dentistry will never seem the same.
  3. Think of easy jazz or soft soul, with Rudolph's cinematic improvisations soaring and circling the melody while adding quirky variations.
  4. 90
    While it's Dave's madly humming brain that propels the film, Davis, whose every glance is a short story in itself, makes Dana's internal crisis equally resonant.
  5. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    This portrait of a failing marriage is one of the summer's great discoveries, and a marvel of mercurial intimacy.
  6. A stylish work from an accomplished, sophisticated filmmaker that bristles with intelligence and gleams with Scott's and Davis' multifaceted, astutely judged portrayals.
  7. 90
    Small, quiet movie that imperceptibly takes its viewers by their throats and doesn't let go
  8. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May not be the best movie ever made about the perils of family life, but it is among the most ruthlessly comic.
  9. 88
    Scott and Davis could not be better. You're in for something special.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    An excellent adaptation of a wonderful work of fiction (The Age of Grief).
  11. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    It's not a flawless adaptation, but it's a gutsy and deeply affecting one: The filmmakers manage to jazz up Smiley's tempo without losing her melancholy tone; and they find a way--without being untrue to the book--to make the stubbornly recessive protagonist seem a dynamo on the screen.
  12. Refreshingly uncategorizable: It’s somewhere between a marital-discord drama and a mystery thriller, but it also has its madcap moments.
  13. 80
    With Scott playing the perfect foil to Leary's exasperated sage, the fantasy sequences are hilariously caustic, but as they accumulate more rapidly, the distinction between real and imagined situations becomes disturbingly vague.
  14. 75
    A surprisingly insightful, non-judgmental meditation on a troubled marriage-with-kids.
  15. A melancholy, well-observed film.
  16. 75
    Campbell Scott creates a new movie anti-hero -- the weak silent type -- and goes all the way with it in The Secret Lives of Dentists.
  17. 75
    Tries hard to be a good film, but if it had relaxed a little, it might have been great.
  18. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Intelligently written and beautifully acted throughout, it’s a good, and rare, example of what we used to refer to as a movie for adults. Adults, be advised.
  19. A rarely honest, funny movie.
  20. The climax, however, is far superior here, open-ended and ambiguous and neatly linked to this film's recurring metaphor: Teeth, of course, which "outlast everything," which survive the death of the body just as marriage can survive the demise of love. They both endure, yellowed and rootless.
  21. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Director Alan Rudolph achieves fresh as well as humorous insights into family life and strategies for keeping a damaged relationship from expiring. But a tiresome final act proves trying.
  22. The film is equally good in handling the discrepancy between skilled and unskilled parents.
  23. 70
    Unlike those in the not dissimilar “American Beauty,” Dentists' characters are needier than the actors who play them -- and therein lies the problem.
  24. It has almost no story: its claim on our interest is in the texture of family life, which is what really fills the screen.
  25. 67
    Campbell Scott and Hope Davis, both of whom work with such subtlety and depth, rescue the film from Rudolph's seemingly native inability to keep it steadily on course.
  26. It all adds up to a portrait in decency, which isn’t nearly as sexy as the title would suggest.
  27. Ultimately, it's a compassionate view of marriage and its stressors. But the filmmaker and actors do their jobs only too well. Watching "Secret Lives" can be as uncomfortable as sitting in the dentist's chair.
  28. 63
    Leary's presence quickly grows tiresome, and The Secret Lives of Dentists would have been a better movie without him. But Scott and Davis keep you interested in the Hursts' dilemma
  29. 63
    Lacking a solid narrative beyond the worsening marital crisis, this humor-flecked domestic drama ends up relying heavily on directorial tricks such as splashes of magic realism, giving it a self-satisfied air that quickly becomes grating.
  30. Scott and Davis bring heart-rending sadness and telling detail to their roles, and imbue Secret Lives with something real and true.
  31. Director Alan Rudolph, whose reputation rests on ensemble pieces, lets Scott's performance -- as skilled as his pyrotechnical turn in "Roger Dodger" (2002), but composed entirely of subtle notes -- anchor the film.
  32. Reviewed by: Patrick Peters
    The cast are terrific, but byt he end, the film is struggling to stay together as much as the family it depicts.

Awards & Rankings

There are no user reviews yet.