Trust the Man Review
New York. Tom (David Duchovny) is married to Rebecca (Julianne Moore), an actress. While she is in the middle of a starring run on stage, Tom has become a househusband, looking after their two children. However, he’s more interested in sex than she is. At first this leads him to spend his days accessing porn sites, but soon his eyes begin to wander. Tobey (Billy Crudup) is Rebecca’s younger brother and Tom’s friend, in a long-term relationship with Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal), an unpublished novelist who wants marriage and a baby, two words that send Tobey into a panic.
Written and directed by Bart Freundlich, who previously made The Myth of Fingerprints which also starred his wife Julianne Moore, Trust the Man is two-thirds of a smart, funny romantic comedy that goes astray in its final stages. Despite his recent quality slump, Woody Allen casts a very long shadow over any attempt to make comedy-dramas in New York. Freundlich’s humour is rather broader than Allen’s, but for the most part it works. Of the central characters, the men especially are self-centred and immature, but they’re well-played by Duchovny and Crudup and entertaining to watch, just as long as we’re not meant to sympathise with them. The film falters when it asks us to do that. Julianne Moore has least to do out of the four leads, but manages it ably enough, while Maggie Gyllenhaal has no problem gaining our sympathy. There’s a nice cameo from Ellen Barkin as a literary agent who comes on to Elaine, much to her surprise.
If I bring up Woody Allen again, it’s because that in his considerable prime he could mix comedy with drama in a far more able way than Freundlich does here. Freundlich seems to have lost control of his material towards the end of the film, resolving his story with one of the biggest clichés in the whole of the romantic comedy genre. And not once but twice.