The Trouble With The Truth


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The Trouble With The Truth
"Hemphill takes this beyond the usual simple of equation of lust and loneliness to factor in the pair's changed circumstances and the impact that any decision would have on those around them."

One of the reasons that intimate relationship dramas are so popular is that two people in a room, or succession of them, won't break the budget. They also, in theory, offer universal appeal since most of the adult cinema-going populace have experienced some sort of one-on-one romance. Yet, it's amazing how many times they go wrong. For every Richard Linklater Before and After there's a slew of others that fail to spark because of empty characters, empty dialogue, or both.

The Trouble With The Truth writer/director Jim Hemphill, thankfully, shows an ear for conversation and a heart for romance while being mindful of the realities of life, carefully crafting this intimate drama about a dinner date between divorcees Robert (John Shea) and Emily (Lea Thompson) to present a relationship in miniature. "The only purpose of marriage is to make it more difficult for two people who are miserable to break up," Robert tells his daughter (Danielle Harris) when she meets him at breakfast to tell him about her newly announced engagement. On paper it sounds like a line of memorised dialogue, and Shea's delivery indicates that for his character, in a way, it is. Robert, he suggests, is a man who has spent a lot of time thinking about put-downs of this sort in a bid to ensure that when the time comes they will deliver high charm and a deep cut.

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Since his divorce, he's become something of a ladies man, preferring - or at least more drawn to - the surface pleasures of casual relationships afforded by easy pick ups from his bar piano playing than anything deeper. Emily, on the other hand, has become a successful novelist - thanks at least in part to her experience of divorce - and remarried, with all these subjects offering a solid hunting ground for point scoring when the pair meet up for the first time in years. After a slightly slow set up, the film hits its stride when they get together in a bar at the start of the evening. Their clothes speak volumes. Emily has gone the whole hog, perhaps to show him what he's missing, while Robert is a study in slackness, his sneakers suggesting the air of someone who doesn't want the other person to think he went to any special trouble.

The film captures the mixture of remembered intimacy and arguments and the way these emotions can swirl around one another, one minute sparking conflict, the next an unexpected moment of joy and, perhaps most importantly of all, a level of empathy that can only be gained by sharing your life with someone for years. The sense of will/they won't they is there from the start but Hemphill takes this beyond the usual simple of equation of lust and loneliness to factor in the pair's changed circumstances and the impact that any decision would have on those around them.

This could easily be a play and the filmmaking isn't flashy, but Hemphill and his cinematographer Roberto Correa give the camerawork a sense of movement and grace even if you do, occasionally, long for a scene showing the couple moving from place to place rather than simply post-arrival in situe. But important details, such as Robert and Emily actually eating their meal and getting progressively the worse for wear, are remembered and add to the feeling of authenticity.

As the evening wears on, regret and longing become the more dominant notes as Robert and Emily come to question their long-held opinions about their divorce and newly formed judgements about each other's current lives. Every emotion is here, but Hemphill holds back, allowing complexities to endure and questions to remain unanswered, building tension by keeping the conversation ostensibly light, even as the past threatens to bubble up through the good-natured veneer, while fuelling the conversation with an erotic charge.

Shea and Thompson deliver not just in terms of their lines but with body language that fills in the spaces between - playing tipsy is tricky but they both hit the spot. Robert and Emily may have their differences but at heart they deeply like one another. We grow to like them too and to hope for happy endings even after an ending has come and gone.

Trouble With The Truth is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Reviewed on: 30 Sep 2016
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The Trouble With The Truth packshot
A divorced couple discuss their lives over dinner.
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Director: Jim Hemphill

Writer: Jim Hemphill

Starring: Lea Thompson, John Shea, Danielle Harris, Keri Lynn Pratt, Rainy Kerwin, Ira Heiden, Adrienne Rusk

Year: 2011

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: US


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