A Good Marriage

(The gist: Even though I have loved Stephen King’s stories for the majority of my life, A Good Marriage did not really work for me. While I was very interested in the premise, the way it unfolded was boring and predictable. I kept expecting more, but it was ultimately anti-climatic.)

I love Stephen King; I am a fan. I have enjoyed his books and the movie adaptations of his stories since I was in junior high. I have a lot of forgiveness for King because of this long term love affair. If he pushes a premise just too far across the line of weird. If the movie adaptation falls short. Usually, I love it anyway.

Unfortunately, with A Good Marriage, this is less true. Somehow, this one, out of the numerous stories of his out there, fell noticeably short.

Confessedly, I have not yet read the short story. Full Dark, No Stars is on my Amazon wish list, but I have two young children, which affords little to not time to indulge in reading for pleasure. And perhaps that is the core of the issue. Normally, I have read the story in advance, so the movie serves as a supplement.

Going in, I loved the premise of A Good Marriage, so much so that I had toyed with the idea of writing on that very premise myself before I discovered King had already done it (what hasn’t he done?). A Good Marriage is about Darcy as she discovers her husband is a serial killer.

Yet, the way the plot unfolded seemed very contrived and expected. My viewing partners and I thought perhaps the movie diverged poorly from the story, but as King himself has the writing credit, I doubt that is the case.

The pace was slow, which is expected and appropriate for a conflict that would occur so internally in a character. However, for how slow it was, Darcy progressed through her reactions too fast. I wanted to see her struggle more; I wanted to see her evolve into what happened. But as the movie crawled on, she somehow managed to take leaps too quickly.

Then every turn the plot took was woefully expected. Bob, the husband, was very flat and lacking dimension. I was bored. I did not care. All of this was very unexpected out of something Stephen King for me. My viewing partners and I kept waiting for the twist, for the brilliant development, for that unmistakable King element we were all there for.

And maybe that was it. Perhaps this story was a divergence from his normal. All writers have to do it sometimes, break their pattern, dabble in new territory. I can appreciate that, but it still left me with a movie that I was not impressed with and a story that I did not really enjoy.

I wonder, predictable progression or not, if I would enjoy the plot better in the short story medium. So much of the story itself occurs within Darcy, her inner torment over finding out her husband is a killer and deciding what to do. Maybe all that crucial internal omniscience is lost on the silver screen. That is the part of the story that I was left wanting. I wanted more inside her head; I wanted the psychology of her conflict. And I did not really felt like I got that from the movie.

Ultimately, I will probably go on to read A Good Marriage (and Full Dark, No Stars in its entirety) just to compare, just because I cannot really stay away from my enjoyment of Stephen King’s world. And even if A Good Marriage falls short in both mediums, King is entitled to lose me ever so often after so many years.