Trust the Man Bart Freundlich

Just when you thought the ’90s were over, here comes a fatuous comedy to prove you wrong. Trust the Man takes the ultra-bland pseudo-indie ethos of that decade and updates it for the new millennium: the smug banter and non-aesthetics are the same but the characters are older and facing midlife. David Duchovny and Billy Crudup are the men to be trusted, the former an advertising dropout and the other a magazine writer who are clinging to their immaturity in irritating ways. Where Crudup won’t commit to girlfriend Maggie Gyllenhaal or her desire to have a child, Duchovny strays from actress wife Julianne Moore with a single mother, thus both have some splainin’ to do with their respective partners. But while the movie is supposedly determined to quash the smothering irony they use to avoid their feelings, irony is pretty much the only weapon in the film’s arsenal. The more our heroes show off the forced wit of the screenplay, the more you realise that writer-director Bart Freundlich is trapped in their verbal hall of mirrors himself, and that his attempts to write his way out are futile at best. Heated emotional exchanges are treated with sitcom levity and supporting characters are caricatures without counterparts in real life. And though Bob Balaban manages to make something out of his few scenes as Crudup’s long-suffering psychiatrist, the other actors either nail their annoying characters all too well or are rightly flummoxed. The schmaltzy, romantic climax is impossible to take seriously, but by then the film has already nose-dived into shallowness and crashed in the choppy waters of mediocrity. Extras include a genial commentary by Freundlich and Duchovny, a standard issue "making of” doc and four deleted scenes with optional commentary.