Trust The Man - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted Scenes; Interviews With David Duchovny, Maggie Gyllenhall, Billy Crudup, Julianne Moore, Eva Mendes And Director Bart Freundlich.
A STRONG ensemble cast does much to compensate for the shortcomings in this New York-based romantic comedy-drama that’s nowhere near as funny or as emotionally engaging as it ought to be.
Written and directed by Bart Freundlich (of The Myth of Fingerprints fame), the film sets out to offer a smart and sophisticated look at the trials and tribulations of love and marriage among two contemporary New York couples but it suffers from a few too many body-part gags and low-brow toilet humour.
Some of the support characters, too, feel like window dressing – looking good without really offering anything to the mix.
The couples in question are played by David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal and all equip themselves well as flawed human beings.
Duchovny is Tom, the sex-addict stay-at-home husband of Moore’s actress, Rebecca, who juggles looking after the kids with trying to get himself off.
Crudup, meanwhile, is Tobey, the commitment-phobic younger brother of Rebecca who is desperate to avoid the really big conversations with his long-term girlfriend (Gyllenhaal’s Elaine), a promising children’s book writer who is desperate to start a family of her own.
It’s obvious from the outset that both men will have lessons to learn about their selfish tendencies although, to be fair, watching them rebuild their fractured relationships does provide several moments of fun.
Tom, for instance, enrols in a sex addicts’ group after having an affair with a divorcee mom, while Tobey is forced to get over his neuroses about death and parking in order to focus on what it means to be part of an adult relationship.
The path to enlightenment and/or forgiveness is not always smooth but the ride, while bumpy, does have its moments.
Duchovny displays a nice line in comic timing and mixes humour and emotion very well, building on the chemistry he first shared with Moore in Evolution.
While Gyllenhaal is typically endearing as the hopelessly sweet Elaine, whose desperation to have children blinds her to the failings in at least two of her relationships.
Crudup, however, is less sympathetic and it takes an eternity to warm to his self-obsessed slacker, Tobey.
And many of the support players feel under-used and their presence merely serves to drag out proceedings when a little more focus would have benefited the leads.
Eva Mendes crops up all too briefly as a former flame of Tobey’s, while Ellen Barkin is completely wasted in a cameo as a lesbian publisher. Both James Le Gros, as a weird potential lover, and Gary Shandling, as a shrink, fail to inject the laughs their characters were clearly intended to provide.
Freudlich’s film also cannot resist the need for a contrived ending that serves to de-value much of what has come before.
But if you’re in the mood for something light and romantic, that makes brilliant use of its New York setting, Trust The Man provides a harmless night out. Just don’t expect to be swept off your feet.
Running time: 99 minutes