Marie and Bruce

Director: Tom Cairns
Screenwriters: Tom Cairns, Wallace Shawn

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


Theatricality on screen is not often effective. Rarely is it emotionally satisfying, and when it's used as a theoretical or cerebral conceit, well, frankly, it's been done! That's what I thought, and then I saw Marie and Bruce and realized that maybe there were possibilities that hadn't been explored.

Wallace Shawn's study of the breakdown of a couple's relationship is certainly the opposite of the naturalistic or realistic aesthetic that most cinema adopts. In fact, director Tom Cairns and Shawn have created a world which is almost an abstract ideal. But juxtapose a nearly retrograde theatrical language, absurdist in tone and inflection, with a stagy setting, combined with a digitalized phantasmagorical projection of fantasies and desire, and two of the best actors in the business, and the results are wonderful.

Julianne Moore and Matthew Broderick lead the cast of this chronicle of contemporary ennui and frustration. The depths of their dysfunctionality are quickly revealed and instantly recognizable. But Marie and Bruce isn't a painfully arduous trek through relationship hell. In fact, it's rather delightful, brimming with nasty wit, observations, and humor that are as insightful as they are self-reflexive. Unpredictable and intensely personal, Marie and Bruce is proof that theater ain't dead.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]