Trust The Man

4 out of 10

Hard Core Chick-Flick

When I saw the screening of 'Trust the Man', a pane of glass was apparently inserted between the movie screen and my cinema seat. The actors carried out what appeared to be quite good performances using a reasonably well-written script and they ran through most of the items on the relationship movie checklist (shallow men, cheating men, confused and unhappy women, a silly interruption of a sexual encounter, women won over by the big romantic gesture, the happy ending), but the glass pane blurred the vision and I felt emotionally and physically detached from the story.

As a man, I have no god-given right to write about relationship films (definitely one of the 'chick flick' genres), but I have seen a fair number of them. The ones I've enjoyed most were the ones with clever scripts and biting humor, some truly weepy moments and roughly even-handed ribbing of the two sexes. In "Trust the Man", the script only produced a few laughs, I never felt the tug of a tear and the women were barely scratched while the men were eviscerated.

David Duchovny's character of Tom is treated particularily harshly. His character has left the advertising business because he was miserable and is currently a househusband looking for a new direction in life (which might be applauded if he was a she). It is his fault that his wife Rebecca (Julianne Moore) has stopped wanting to have sex with him (what woman wants to sleep with a loser, right?) and he becomes gradually more and more obsessed with sex and has an affair. He becomes steadily scruffier and more miserable and is chucked out of the house when his infidelity is discovered, having been weaker than Rebecca who has resisted the advances of the young stud actor she is starring in a play with. In the end, Tom redeems himself in a particularily unbelievable way and Rebecca is then allowed to have wild sex with her no-longer-a-loser husband.

"Trust the Man" also stars Billy Crup and Maggie Gyllenhaal as the younger unmarried couple and has appearances by actors like Gary Shandling, Ellen Barkin and Eva Mendes. Given the number of talented actors involved in Director Bart Freundlich's low-budget picture, it's surprising that I reacted to it the way I did. Perhaps they themselves had trouble throwing themselves into their roles emotionally, and this is what tainted their performances. It was almost as if I was a part of the film crew and could not forget that these were not real characters I was watching. There were also no endearing supporting characters who really made an impression: they appeared, disappeared and that was that.

The soundtrack certainly didn't help my mood. Clint Mansell, an established composer whose songs have appeared in films as diverse as "Man on Fire", "Sahara" and "Suspect Zero", must have run out of ideas when writing songs for "Trust the Man", which came across as second-rate folk that actually jangled my sensibilities. Low-key doesn't have to be low-interest, Clint.

All in all, "Trust the Man" is only recommended as a rental.

The elements were there, but they just didn't click

Film Critic: Douglas A Gunter