Married Life is an old-fashioned melodrama about a married man, his girlfriend and his best friend, who takes up with the girlfriend, too. It's an homage to the mores and the overboiled movie melodramas of the day, a Far from Heaven without the satiric relevance.

In 1949, droll man-about- Manhattan Richard ( Pierce Brosnan) enjoys his martinis, his freedom and his friends, especially Harry ( Chris Cooper), a fellow businessman, who is married to Pat (Patricia Clarkson).

"He's married. He likes his wife. It can happen."

Yes, it can, but like this?

Harry's cheating with Kay (Rachel McAdams, miscast). He wants Pat out of the picture. He's so self-centered, he's sure that it would kill Pat to find out. So he's willing to contemplate the un-contemplate-able — to kill her to save her "that pain.

Meanwhile, Richard has taken a shine to Kay. You can tell by the way he holds his cigarette. And the way he narrates.

"I wanted Harry's girl."

Co-writer/director Ira Sachs is so caught up with the mood, how swell his cast looks in those period clothes and period cars, that he shortchanges the plotting of the murder, the clockwork connections that have to fall into place to ratchet up the suspense. A few thin surprises and a couple of pithy declarations about the nature of marriage don't make Married Life a satire of the movies of that day or the marriages of that era. It's as dry as the martinis these well-dressed stiffs keep ordering at that perfectly preserved oak-and-velvet bar before hopping into their vintage convertibles.

Screening: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. at Regal.