Trust the Man

Josh Bell

In writer-director Bart Freundlich’s pathetic rom-com Trust the Man, the underlying emotions ring completely false, and his indie-movie aesthetic doesn’t even allow for shallow moments of Hollywood glamour. It’s the worst of both worlds, with the only redeeming factors its quartet of capable performers just barely holding up the weak script.

Chief among them is Freundlich’s wife, Julianne Moore, who plays actress Rebecca Pollack, with David Duchovny as her husband, Tom, who’s given up his job in advertising to stay home with the couple’s two young kids. Tom’s best bud and Rebecca’s brother is perpetual manchild Tobey (Billy Crudup), a freelance writer who lounges around the house all day while his long-term girlfriend, Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal) slaves away in a book publishing house and dreams of marriage and children.

All four live in the whitewashed, upper-class urban world of New York most closely associated with Woody Allen films. Freundlich recycles tired Allen tropes that have gotten old even in the Woodman’s own films. On top of that, Freundlich doesn’t hesitate to employ fart jokes, hits to the groin and clichéd bits about gender differences (one scene actually has Tobey laboriously explaining to Elaine how to use the TV remote) in pursuit of his meager laughs.

He never gets there, though, and by the time Trust the Man ends in its false and unearned outpouring of love, you’ll be longing for Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks to exchange some cute but ridiculous emails.

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