David (Scott) and Dana Hurst (Davis) are married dentists with three kids. When husband suspects wife of adultery, he begins having imagined conversations with a disgruntled patient (Leary). The stress rises further when the whole family are stricken with flu.
Campbell Scott is one of the best-kept secrets in American cinema. His performance as a self-lacerating dentist in this enjoyable adaptation of Jane Smileys novella The Age Of Grief makes a striking companion piece to his turn as an arrant heel in Roger Dodger.
Whats so impressive is the variety of his interaction with his sullen (and possibly adulterous) dentist wife (Hope Davis), their three daughters and a scene-stealing Denis Leary as a disgruntled patient who becomes a kind of malevolent Jiminy Cricket in Scotts jaundiced mind.
But director Alan Rudolph, who usually offers such sure insights into human nature, surprisingly loses control of the scenario in its latter stages, notably when Scott finds himself nursing his stricken household through a projectile illness.
The cast are terrific, but byt he end, the film is struggling to stay together as much as the family it depicts.