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Truth About Love, The
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by Robert Flaxman

"The truth is it's pretty awful."
1 stars

Film titles don’t get much more presumptuous, or more grossly inaccurate, than The Truth About Love, a romantic comedy that isn’t particularly funny, embarrassing in its attempts at romance, and full of ridiculous situations that would never happen in real life. It would be even worse except that I have the sneaking suspicion that the title was concocted by a computer program designed to plug the word “love” into short phrases.

Jennifer Love Hewitt, apparently trying to go the Renee Zellweger route, adopts a wavering British accent to play Alice, the oh-so-comically prudish wife of Sam (Jimi Mistry). Sam is a lawyer whose best friend Archie (Dougray Scott) happens to work right alongside him, and also happens to be in love with Alice, which we find out in the opening scene when he finds a packet of radish seeds lying on the ground and sends them to her anonymously as a valentine.

I know what you’re thinking: what could be more romantic than receiving vegetable seeds from a mysterious stranger? Alice thinks they’re from Sam at first, but when she realizes that’s not the case she still plants and grows them in a way that isn’t at all intended to be narratively meaningful. Meanwhile, through a series of events too boring to be worth relating here, Alice decides to send Sam an anonymous letter to see if he hides it from her… which he does.

The Truth About Love doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. On one hand, it’s a madcap sex comedy; on the other, it’s an earnest romance. Neither comes even close to working. Various pratfalls and Alice’s sister making remarks about the difference between men and women that are so old their first versions probably appeared in hieroglyphics are about all the film can muster up in terms of comedy – that and what it surely considers the inherent humor in watching a character do something tremendously idiotic. The romance is no better, however; there is little attempt to develop any of the characters, making Alice’s choice between the one-dimensional sleazy husband and the one-dimensional loyal best friend both completely uninteresting and totally easy – with no shades of gray to worry about and a host of clichés setting precedent, is there really much doubt as to with whom she will end up?

Maybe the reason the sex comedy works so poorly is that the filmmakers have some sort of a vendetta against sex. It’s actually quite strange to watch. Our heroine has very little interest in sex; she rejects her husband’s advances routinely and refuses to wear anything particularly appealing. When she begins to play a character to lead him on, suddenly she has to buy lingerie (no!) and shift her voice to a lower register. The sex scene that consummates the relationship between Sam and the disguised Alice is bland, chaste, and decidedly not erotic.

The message seems to be that sex will ruin your life and make you a terrible person. The character of Katya, Sam’s mistress, couldn’t have less shading; if the three main characters are one-dimensional, and they are, Katya basically exists as a single point, by which there is the label “crazy sadomasochistic nymphomaniac.” Anyone who has a lot of sex is clearly a jerk – like Sam, who spends so much time with his shirt off you’d think Mistry was being paid by the nipple. The only one who gets away with it is Alice’s sister Felicity, whose nymphomaniacal tendencies are instead played for laughs.

The latter is a good example of where The Truth About Love tries to have its cake and eat it too. It wants both to laugh knowingly about sex and simultaneously frown upon it, and it wants to depict a romance without spending too much time investing in any of the characters (because apparently it can’t both do that and be “funny”). When Sam nods to the blonde he thinks he’s having an affair with and tells Archie, “That’s the perfect woman,” Archie fixes him with a declarative, “You married the perfect woman,” then stomps toward the camera while the music swells dramatically. When not a single one of these characters has had any significant buildup, such a scene goes from merely over the top to flat-out hilariously bad. (It doesn’t help that the music is pretty much exactly the same no matter what the situation; it’s so repetitive it feels like the film is being shown with a temp score.)

With a poorly drawn and hopelessly cliché romance and a bizarrely Puritanical attitude towards anything sexual, The Truth About Love is the sort of romantic comedy that isn’t either of those things. The whole thing probably would have been more successful if they’d called it The Truth About Sex, pulled out the few attempts at comedy, and shown it to high school freshmen as one of those cautionary videos in health class. After all, who better to reinforce the notion that having sex is bad than a gruff gym teacher with a TV on a cart?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12858&reviewer=385
originally posted: 08/18/05 11:49:58
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User Comments

5/22/06 andrew H British-style comedy without the wit, humour or style. 1 stars
12/13/05 Fekaloid Fenomenon movie sucks 1 stars
11/04/05 kim yap great movie which depicts real life mature love story.... good movie!!!! 5 stars
10/25/05 tristan it was good fun 4 stars
8/24/05 angel i could totally relate to the story.. 5 stars
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  DVD: 25-Oct-2005



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