Trust The Man

Trust The Man


Reviewed by: Chris

When two top actresses grace the screen, expectations can be high. They are both favourites of mine. Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven, The Hours, End of the Affair, Magnolia) is acclaimed for her skill in portraying the inner life of characters with minimal dialogue. Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary, Adaptation, Donnie Darko) is known for her subtle performances and acknowledges a predilection for movies that say something 'transgressive'.

So I was quite shocked to see them taking the lead roles in a movie that is ordinary in the extreme. Even to the very end, I hung on to the edge of my seat hoping for some tour de force that would redeem the film from its abyss of mediocrity, but my optimism was dashed by one of the most formulaic, bone-churningly cringe-worthy and predictable of cheesy conclusions you could imagine. Moore and Gyllenhaal have long held my admiration as thinking, constructive societal rebels, and I hope they have enjoyed their time off with this movie and get back to what they are good at soon.

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Rebecca (Moore) and Elaine (Gyllenhaal) are in warm, cosy relationships. The opening scenes, together with loving Woody Allen-esque depictions of Manhattan and an autumnal Central Park, convey a cuddly feelgood factor - showing scenes of affection between them and their other halves and children.

Rebecca's brother is in a long-term relationship with Elaine, though they are not married. Rebecca's husband is unemployed but they are both successful people, enjoying life to the full and getting an annual visit to a marriage counsellor as a sort of oil change. Elaine and partner Jake both work as writers and their only problem seems to be that Elaine wants a baby and Jake doesn't.

The parts are played convincingly, which lulled me into the false expectation of socially relevant drama such as Me And You and Everyone We Know or The Squid & the Whale. Although performances are well-nuanced throughout, and the film perhaps makes a vague stab at the idea that a temporary fling may even be constructive in the long term as a couple realise how much they mean to each other, the predictable plot soon ties itself up with romantic comedy cliches and seems to have very little to say for itself. The dialogue is believable but, like the story, is hardly interesting or deep enough to really grip.

The question of a target audience also drew a blank with me. Youngsters would perhaps prefer onscreen characters going through a time of life with which they can identify, whereas the 30s and 40s age-group to which the film addresses itself tend to want something to get their teeth into, or at least quality entertainment. Trust The Man offers neither. Like an over-long episode of Friends that is short on gags, it is pleasant enough to watch but never comes close to the potential suggested by such first rate acting talent.

Reviewed on: 13 Sep 2006
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Love and relationships in Manhattan.
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Paul Griffiths **1/2

Director: Bart Freundlich

Writer: Bart Freundlich

Starring: Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, David Duchovny, Billy Crudup

Year: 2005

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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