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Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look: 4.35%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 30.43%

3 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Trust the Man
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Julianne--It's Not Going To Stop Till You Wise Up"
1 stars

If I had to sit and think about it–no doubt with my limbs strapped down and my eyes held open in the classic Ludovico style–I could probably name a few films worse than “Trust the Man” but I cannot think of one in recent memory that managed to annoy me as thoroughly as this one. Even those with a taste for self-consciously quirky romantic comedies will likely feel the same while sitting through this nightmarish botch in which a group of charming and talented actors are forced to portray some of the most smug, annoying and thoroughly unlikable characters ever seen in a film not made by Henry Jaglom or Ed Burns.

Julianne Moore stars as Rebecca, a world-famous movie star who has just begun work on a Broadway play, and David Duchovny plays her husband Tom, a stay-at-home dad. It would appear that the two have been growing apart for some time (Rebecca’s general disinterest in having sex with Tom has driven him to become a porn addict) but they don’t seem to be particularly interested in doing anything about it–we see them in the street cracking up after their once-a-year session with couples therapist Garry Shandling. Eventually, Tom begins an affair with a sexy divorcee (Dagmara Dominczyk) but feels too guilty about it to continue–alas, he comes to this decision just after Rebecca has figured things out and she kicks him out for good. No longer interested in the pursuit of instant self-gratification, Tom realizes that he can’t live without Rebecca and tries to win her back.

Meanwhile, Rebecca’s oafish brother Tobey (Billy Crudup) is having his own relationship problems with longtime girlfriend Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal)–she wants to get married and have kids but he is so terrified of commitment or his mortality or something along those lines that he can’t be bothered with such things, or anything that requires him to act older than 17. Eventually, Elaine comes to her senses and kicks Tobey to the curb. Even though he is immediately (and inexplicably) pursued by old friend Faith (Eva Mendes), a hottie who shares his appetite for instant self-gratification, Tobey suddenly realizes that he can’t live without her and tries to win her back from her new boyfriend, a weirdo European straight out of a bad improv sketch.

In the hands of a filmmaker with even the slightest facility for depicting a realistic and unflinching look at contemporary relationships, “Trust the Man” could have served as an interesting look at the resentments that can slowly build up in a relationship over time and how they can either tear couples apart or bring them back together again. Unfortunately, the film has been written and directed by Bart Freundlich, the man best known for such previous one-dimensional celebrations of obnoxious behavior as “The Myth of Fingerprints” and “World Traveler” and for being the real-life Mr. Julianne Moore, and the results are more akin to a couple of lesser episodes of “Love American Style” jammed together at random and dragged out to feature length. I never believed for a single second in either one of the relationships–the characters played by Duchovny and Crudup are so infantile, self-absorbed and unlikable that you can’t imagine that their significant others would want to spend five minutes with them waiting in line for coffee, let alone the rest of their lives–and I never cared for a single second whether either of them would get back together or not. Moore, Duchovny, Gyllenhaal and Crudup are all smart actors who have turned in strong performances in the past–didn’t any of them raise any objections over the fact that they were being asked to play complete dullards?

Perhaps they were too distracted by the other questionable aspects of the screenplay–scenes so awkwardly conceived and executed that you just sit there and wonder what Freundlich could have possibly been thinking by including them. There is the unfunny spectacle of Rebecca getting abused in various ways–at one point, she nearly dies in an allegedly hilarious choking scene and later get smacked in the nose and walks around for several subsequent scenes sporting a nasty shiner. There is the scene in which Tobey convinces Elaine, a budding author of kiddie books, that the author photo accompanying her manuscript submission should be a bikini shot more suited to “Maxim.” There is the scene between Elaine and a book editor (Ellen Barkin) that starts off with Elaine spit-taking all over the editor, ends with the editor offering to exchange entirely different fluids in return and which is never referred to again for the rest of the film. There is the subplot where Tobey impulsively decides to start stalking his analyst (Bob Balaban) through the streets. There is the scene in which Tom finds himself visiting a sex-addicts support group and loudly tucks into a submarine sandwich while the others are pouring out the sordid details of their lives. Worst of all, there is the climax in which Tom and Tobey run riot at the premiere of Rebecca’s play in a last-ditch effort to win back their former lovers while the entire opening night crowd hangs on their every word.(This last sequence is so ridiculous and so cliched that I almost became convinced that Freundlich was delivering a sly parody of such scenes until I realized that no, it was just an especially lousy example.)

In an observation as cloying and obvious as any to be found in the film proper, the tag line for “Trust the Man” informs us that “Love is a four-letter word.” Now there are many four-letter words that come to mind that would more than adequately describe the feelings of anyone stuck watching the film but trust this man, “love” is most definitely not one of them.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12887&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/18/06 04:00:15
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/09/07 mr.mike want to spend 2 hours with self-absorbed Manhattan elitists? did'nt think so 2 stars
8/21/06 Harold "Superb. Hilarious. Smart = I work for the studio that made it." 1 stars
8/16/06 harry putin Superb. Hilarious. Smart. Dont miss this one. The cast is wonderful. David Duchovny is hot. 5 stars
10/20/05 marajade29sm Good lighthearted fun...at last a film that doesn't take itself too seriously! 4 stars
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  18-Aug-2006 (R)
  DVD: 06-Feb-2007



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