Trust the Man is writer/director Bart Freundlich's (The Myth of Fingerprints) homage to Woody Allen--a small romantic comedy centering around the lives and neuroses of four Manhattanites dead set on screwing up their romantic affairs. Julianne Moore (Children of Men, The Hours) is Rebecca, a successful actress, mother, and wife of Tom (David Duchovny), an advertising exec who has quit work to be a full-time dad. Rebecca's brother, Tobey (Billy Crudup), is a screw-up who is lacking all motivation and has been dating her best friend, Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal), for 7 years. He is also best friends with Tom. Got it?No? Eh, don't worry.
Tom wants to have more sex, Rebecca wants less. Elaine wants to get married and have babies. Tobey wants to be a perpetual teenager. They all go to shrinks to talk about their relationships, and to restaurants to talk about their shrinks, and generally fester in their own angst until they start making bad decisions that only give them more to obsess about.
I don't mind a Woody Allen-ish character-driven story, and for a good while Trust the Man provides that. It's a talky piece showing pretty people in a pretty Manhattan obsessing about their fairly privileged lives and the inevitability of death. And while there are lots of people in the world dealing with more prescient obstacles (such as, where will I find food today?), there are plenty of others for whom this is probably a relatively accurate reflection. Whether it's your taste or not is another matter entirely, but I don't see there being anything wrong with making a movie that captures that lifestyle.
Where I do have a problem is that that about two-thirds of the way through, Trust the Man abandons its Allen-esque conventions. It crosses over into broad romantic comedy conventions rather out of nowhere, with all the usual making a jackass out of yourself to save your relationship that that type of movie entails. And I don't have a problem with that type of movie, either. I'd just prefer it if Freundlich could pick one or the other.
Mostly, Trust the Man is another in Freundlich's series of tiny, atmospheric films that seem to get made likely on the basis of his wife's celebrity and willingness to act in them (he is married to Julianne Moore). With a strong cast, it is no surprise that the acting is all top notch. And there are a couple of cute cameos by Garry Shandling and Ellen Barkin.
Ultimately, whether or not watching Duchovny (The X Files, Return to Me) and Crudup (Almost Famous, The Good Shepherd) talk about putting their relationships in danger is worth your hour and a half is up to you. If you like solid conflict-driven, action movies, Trust the Man will seem like torture. But if you're yearning for the good old days of Annie Hall, you could do worse.
What’s on the Disc:
Fullscreen and widescreen versions of the movie.
Audio commentary with director Bart Freundlich and David Duchovny.
Featurette - "Reel Love: The Making of Trust the Man"
Deleted scenes with optional audio commentary.