Review of ‘Ex-Husbands’: Masculinity in Crisis in a Comedy that Avoids Bitterness

Griffin Dunne seems as lost as his character in ‘After Hours’ (M. Scorsese, 1985) in this multifaceted portrayal of masculinity in crisis. The film ends up being a much less dramatic comedy than it could have been: the odyssey in the sea of relationships of three men – a father and his two sons – who helplessly witness the new directions life takes without a sad map to guide them or give them a clue as to which route to follow.

Divorces, both personal and those of others not accepted, bachelor parties without a wedding in sight, and throwaway relationships – along with a conscious call for attention to mental health – all unfold in this second feature film by Noah Pritzker. It is related to John Cassavetes’ ‘Husbands’ only in the title’s nod. The harshness of the latter turns into a sympathetic look here, with a touch of melancholy – for what we have lost, for who we are, for what will no longer be – that dominates everything. This is largely contributed by its trio of protagonists, with a mature but not wise Dunne, a mirror that does not guide his offspring who, like him, like everyone, just want to know how to love well.

Noah Pritzker’s film takes us through the tumultuous journey of the three men, highlighting the crises they face as they navigate their changing lives. The film does not shy away from showing the vulnerabilities and insecurities that come with these changes. It offers a deep dive into their emotional struggles, presenting them in a light-hearted manner that makes the audience reflect on the broader implications of these personal battles.

The film’s strength lies in its ability to balance humor with serious themes. Pritzker’s direction ensures that the story remains engaging and relatable. The characters are well-developed, and their interactions feel genuine and heartfelt. The narrative structure allows the audience to connect with each of the protagonists, understanding their motivations and the reasons behind their actions.

In essence, ‘Ex-Husbands’ is a thoughtful exploration of modern masculinity. It challenges traditional notions and encourages viewers to empathize with the characters’ plights. The film’s subtle humor and poignant moments make it a standout piece that resonates with a wide audience. Pritzker’s storytelling prowess shines through, making this film a must-watch for those interested in a nuanced portrayal of life’s complexities.

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