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 is an advertising dropout and the other a magazine writer, who both cling 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. Amd 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 its 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 of them are futile at best.

Heated emotional exchanges are treated with sitcom levity and supporting characters are caricatures without counterparts in real life. And although 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 too well or are rightly flummoxed by their roles.

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. (Fox Searchlight)