The Secret Lives of Dentists (2003)


Slater: These children are monsters, they should be struck… can I hit them?
David: No.

In “The Secret Lives of Dentists” we get a glimpse at the life of a dentist no one really sees, the life of a dentist, a person who people fear once they sit on the chair preparing for a check up, he’s the person, as character Slater says, everyone hates and no one wants to know because all they want to do is sit down get their work done and get the fuck out. David, played by a serene Campbell Scott, is the very submissive dentist who follows his usual daily routines and is always enveloped in his career. When he returns home he is very enveloped in the raising of his three daughters, one of whom clings to him like an extra limb and refuses to acknowledge her mother.

David takes all of his workaday boring activities in stride and is very focused, his wife Dana, however isn’t given the attention she desires though it looks as if David tries. Dana is an aspiring theater actress and singer, and one night on a big performance of hers in the city, David unexpectedly catches Dana kissing another man. He doesn’t confront her, yet goes about his business focused and trying to register what he’s just seen. He knows this affair will change things but is he upset because she’s seeing another man, or because it will break his daily routines? That’s a question the story begs to ask its audience, and I was entertained because this gives us something to do while watching. David continues about his activities imagining very funny scenarios of Dana’s affairs being fondled by mysterious men, engaging in threesomes, his eventual confrontation with her asking “When you kick someone out, do you really kick them out, or do you kick them?”

Campbell Scott gives a very good performance as a man set in his ways, also engaging in a very torturous profession where he also gets little respect. Denis Leary gives a very good performance here as Slater, a polar opposite to David who seems to mouth off, is charismatic, and an outward sense of fashion. After Slater exits the story after a confrontation in a theater, his presence remains and the writers build him as a figment of David’s imagination symbolizing David’s suppressed rage, anger, and lack of emotional outbursts. His Mr. Hyde guides him to independence and in slamming down the iron fist on his household. Though it does get a little overly weird for the purposes of weird in the middle, this is a profound study of lack of communication in a marriage with some great performances from Scott, Davis, and Leary.