Good Housekeeping

In this uproarious and often scathing debut feature (1999), writer-director Frank Novak charts the dissolution of a working-class marriage, as a war of nerves between husband and wife escalates to absurd extremes. The wife (Petra Westen) is having a lesbian affair with a solicitous, upwardly mobile accountant, and the unemployed husband (Bob Miller), prodded by his beer-swigging buddies, erects a Berlin Wall in the middle of their house. Embracing the voyeurism of reality TV, Novak exposes the foibles and odd obsessions of his characters (the husband collects action figures), yet his empathetic portrayal of blue-collar Los Angeles, neatly summarized by Elizabeth Burhop's trashy set design, builds to an unexpectedly sweet conclusion. 90 min.

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