"Do you ever think there's a difference between not saying something because there's nothing to say and not saying something because there's just too much?"
Such is the kind of question raised by writer/director Brian Savelson's new film In Our Nature, an insightful drama that probes the delicate dynamics that shape our familial and romantic relationships. This question in particular is posed by Gil, played by John Slattery, best known for his tour-de-force performance as Roger Sterling on Mad Men.
As he does each week with Sterling, Slattery is able to imbue Gil with a raw depth with a mere turn of phrase. Here is an actor who is truly present in his character—and who is absolutely riveting to watch. In Our Nature explores the subjectivity of memory, particularly as it relates to Gil's relationship with his estranged son, Seth (Zach Gilford). Thanks to a logistical error, Gil and Seth end up at a family vacation home with their respective girlfriends on the same weekend.
Throughout its course, the men are forced to confront long-buried aspects of their relationship—some of which they see very differently. "Memories are just stories we tell ourselves about our past; and that's often why they don't match when we've shared the same experiences with someone," Slattery said when we caught up with him recently.
Slattery's choice of emotionally complex roles like Gil and Roger Sterling isn't surprising once you've spent some time with him. "I'm troubled that the most popular movies today are the ones that deal with the simplest form of human emotions," Slattery confides. "When I was growing up, the top movies dealt with grown-up, complex emotions."
(And despite his role as Tony Stark's father, Howard, in Iron Man 2, he doesn't have a soft spot for superheroes: "I don't care about them enough to have a favorite.")
Frank, straightforward, and thoughtful, Slattery is willing to own up to his shortcomings: "My wife tells me I need to learn to be more patient with my son," he says. But as with his screen characters, it's what Slattery leaves unsaid that speaks volumes. When we asked about his guilty pleasure, he laughed: "I'm not sharing."
IN OUR NATURE IS OUT IN LIMITED RELEASE TODAY, DECEMBER 7.