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|Trust the Man|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir-scr Bart Freundlich|
with David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Billy Crudup, Eva Mendes, Justin Bartha, James LeGros, Dagmara Dominczyk, Glenn Fitzgerald, Bob Balaban, Ellen Barkin, Garry Shandling
release US 18.Aug.06,
05/US Fox 1h39
Boys will be boys: Gyllenhaal, Crudup, Moore and Duchovny
There's a scruffy, disarming charm to this comedy about the whole male-female thing. Sharp dialog, superb performances and a congenial tone all win us over, even if it feels somewhat simplistic.
Tom and Rebecca (Duchovny and Moore) are married with two kids, while Rebecca's brother Tobey (Crudup) continues to be uncommitted, even after seven years with his girlfriend Elaine (Gyllenhaal). Over the course of several months, stay-at-home dad Tom will be tempted by a sexy mom (Dominczyk), actress Rebecca will face a crisis of identity and a potential costar toy-boy (Bartha), author Elaine will finally get fed up with waiting, and lay-about Tobey will be forced to grow up. And since this is New York, it'll involve therapy.
Freundlich's plot may be deeply predictable, building to a shamelessly sweet Notting Hill-style finale (thankfully undercut by genuine hilarity), but it also gives terrific dialog to actors who know how to deliver it naturally. It's clever without being too witty; these are real people in extremely recognisable relationships. Although it's perhaps not so easy to identify with their ludicrously luxuriant lives. How the men survive on their own without jobs is never explained.
The central quartet of actors is very good, even with the slightly askew casting. And the colourful side characters are great fun; many only have one scene (such as Shandling and Barkin), but manage to leave an indelible mark. The film is basically a collection of comedy set pieces at meals, shows and so on, many of which are very funny. It's sexy and bright, likeable and engaging, punctuated with serious moments in which the characters examine or redefine themselves.
And we can see ourselves in each character as the film touches on issues of fidelity, commitment, career pressures, sordid pasts and children. Freundlich also takes a deft hand to his examination of the battle of the sexes, making some pointed observations without ever being controversial. The real message here is that people are flawed and selfish, and that we have to understand that fact if we hope to find any happiness. There are worse ways to spend a couple of hours.
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© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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