Trust The Man
, 29 Nov 2006
I have previously bemoaned (most recently in refernce to Freedomland) just how far the career of the great Julianne Moore has fallen. Okay, everyone makes a poor choice every now and then but Moore's career has been, since Far From Heaven and The Hours, for both of which she was deservedly nominated for Oscars in a single year, in what seems at this stage to be a terminal decline. Trust The Man does her no favours in this respect, rather than giving her a ladder to climb out of the grave she's digging for her career husband and Director Freundlich has handed her a shovel.
The story is one you've seen a million times; two couples going through relationship woes. That's all you need to know about the story.
Right from the off I started to get the feeling I wasn't going to like Trust The Man as it opens with an utterly uninspiring credit sequence which does nothing to get us into the story, instead it just sits there. However this is about the highlight, simply because it features none of the main 'characters'.
I use the word character advisedly. Trust The Man barely has them, we spend two hours with, almost exclusively, four people and by the end we know nothing more about them than we do by the end of the first scene they appear in. This is because Freundlich's script gives none of them a personality, they are ciphers with one (or less) persoanlity trait each (Gyllenhaal's character wants a baby, Crudup's is afraid of death, etc) indeed they would struggle to ccome up with a personality between them.
The film looks perfectly okay, but never more, and often less. Freundlich directs in standard issue rom-com (though there's precious little rom here and no com whatsoever) fashion, bright and flat.
There isn't a single line in the film that rings true. All the dialogue is false, forced and anytime the film tries to be remotely serious it comes off as pretentious.
Events feel contrived too, particularly an excruciating finale at the play Moore's character is appearing in and side characters flutter in and out to no purpose (for example does Ellen Barkin's publisher actually publish Gyllenhaal's novel).
Freundlich can't be expected to take all the blame though as the performances are, frankly, completely wretched. Moore, previously incapable of seeming false on screen, is just terrible, betraying almost no emotion during any scene. She and Duchovny display little of the chemistry which made the ludicrous Evolution function. Duchovny too gives a blank performance. It's left to Billy Crudup to flail around, wave his arms and give a big performance as the 'comic relief' of the film and Maggie Gyllenhaal flounders, lost with a complete nothing of a character, trying hard but coming off like she's in high school drama.
Trust The Man is torturously poor, there's not a frame that feels true, not a second that isn't derivative not a line that doesn't sound stupid and not a joke you've not heard told, better, before. Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, can somebody slap Julianne Moore out of her coma and bring back the fantastic actress I miss?
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