Eye For Film >> Movies >> Trust The Man (2005) Film Review
Trust The Man
Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths
Do you ever see patterns emerging in our lives? Do you think that some things happen because that's just how they are meant to be?
Well, I'm seeing a pattern, a recurrence in our lives right now. I'm convinced it's an unending rhythm and it was always meant to be this way. Yes, every year, throughout the year, we'll have romantic comedies in New York.
Jeesh, we've only just had Little Manhattan. There's a fine tradition of NY "romedy", but unless you keep it fresh the formula will quickly drag. Unfortunately writer/director Bart Freundlich goes straight down the subway with little of new substance here, except maybe the sex talk.
Tom (David Duchovny) has jacked in his advertising job (he felt all hollow, bless) to become a housefather to his young son and daughter. As his actual home parenting requires nothing more than shopping and kindergarten runs, pretty soon his thoughts turn to sex. First porn from the sidewalk kiosk, then the internet and then the sassy divorced mum at school.
His renowned actress wife Rebecca (Julianne Moore not in her most demanding role) goes to work at the theatre, but is soon questioning how well their new roles are working out. She's the older sister of goateed Tobey (Billy Crudup), who is going out with her best mate Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal). She's in publishing, with her own book on the brink of release, while he's a consummate slacker, obsessed with successful parking in Manhattan and little else. After seven years together, she's asking if marriage and kids were ever in the picture. He's avoiding everything because we're all going to die anyway, so what does it matter, right?
Cue the career crunches, the what-if chats over dinner, infidelity, break ups and a whole lot of soul searching. And people talking about their sex lives.
There's comedy to be had here, but it's only the simple stuff. Poking fun at people's "in betweener" partners, black humour in the inappropriate comment, or bedroom antics, and there's good mileage from the deviants at Tom's sex addicts support group. Men getting punched in the nuts by kids always seem to get a laugh, too. But this is a film about relationships, a potential mine of comedy and pathos into which Freundlich just doesn't dig deep enough. This is a minnow compared to the genius of The Squid And The Whale.
There's a game attempt at some intellectual repartee (Tom reads Camus in bed), but generally everybody talks about doing it a lot. Phone calls don't even start with "hello", they just dive straight into the sex questions and very pale Woody Allen pastiches, all of little consequence.
So this is NY rom-com now, is it? Thanks Carrie Bradshaw. I'm mindful of sounding like a Brit crit prude, but it's not the content that grates, it's the forced "joke to serious point to joke" dialogue that's painful and too unnatural to be credible as conversations between real people.
The performances don't help. Duchovny has trouble emoting when action is not involved and Crudup is desperately trying to channel the talented Jack Black, with more cheekbone. It's disappointing to see Gyllenhaal hitting the mainstream with fare like this when she's better stretched by leftfield projects. Moore clearly has the biggest range and when things turn to more serious matters of the heart she punches well above the others and gets the most quality screen time (well, she is the writer/director's wife in real life).
Most unsatisfying is deciphering what Freundlich is trying to say. Trust the man to do what? Exactly what he wants until he realises his wrongs? That his woman needs to stick it out long enough for him to come around? That's romantic tosh and this is New York, for Chrissake, in the 21st century!
Rather than swathed in your arms, this is one rom-com that could have her seething in the aisles.Reviewed on: 23 Sep 2006