Duct tape is a quick-and-dirty method of mending broken objects. But can the adhesive also mend a broken marriage?

That's more or less the premise of Serious Moonlight, the shrill black comedy written by the late Adrienne Shelly and directed by actress Cheryl Hines, Shelly's chum and costar in the writer's flaky comedy Waitress.

The confined spaces of Serious Moonlight (most of the action takes place in the bathroom of a country house owned by the aggrieved husband and wife), its few characters (only four major speaking parts), and windy monologues suggest that Shelly may have conceived it as a theater piece. This film is many things, but cinematic is not one of them.

In its opening scene, Louise, a high-powered lawyer (Meg Ryan), learns that her faithless husband, Ian (Tim Hutton), is about to leave for Paris with his mistress (Kristen Bell). (You would think that Ryan, whose character was similarly jilted by Hutton's Paris-bound beau in French Kiss, should know better than to costar with him again.)

Confident of her aim, not to mention her powers of persuasion, Louise decks Ian with a flowerpot and tapes him to the toilet, where she makes her opening argument in the case for why they should stay together. Then some serious lunacy happens.

As the spurned spouse, Ryan's over-the-top performance has some slapsticky humor. Likewise, Hutton's turn as the husband who more than anything longs to press the marriage reset button, only with a newer model.

More strident than funny, the film illustrates that old French proverb, "Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out."EndText