Trust the Man
Dir. Bart Freundlich. 2005. R. 103mins. David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup, Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Give Freundlich and his wife, Moore, credit for this: They certainly love working together. She’s starred in three of the four features he has directed (The Myth of Fingerprints, World Traveler and this film). Here, she gets a role that must hit close to home. She plays Rebecca, a well-known actor whose husband, Tom (Duchovny), has opted out of a career in advertising to stay at home with their son. Their marriage has hit a very predictable bump. He wants sex as often as he can get it, and she doesn’t. He’s got time on his hands and a chronic case of I-don’t-want-to-grow-up. She’s busy with a new play. You can see the trouble coming.
Paralleling their story is the dilemma of Rebecca’s brother Tobey (Crudup), who’s even more juvenile than Tom and has an obsession with death that he uses to avoid big issues like his failure to commit seriously to his live-in girlfriend Elaine (Gyllenhaal). When Elaine breaks it off with Tobey, he finally realizes that he really does love her and tries to get her back. Tom, meanwhile, has an affair with the mother of one of his son’s classmates, which also sends him on a quest to repair his marriage.
Freundlich’s screenplay rests pretty comfortably between comedy and drama, and the leads are all good, but after a while the same old line about men needing to grow up gets tired, and the women’s roles are surprisingly underwritten. You’d think Moore could have given him some pointers.—Hank Sartin