Ruminating about love, fidelity, and other relationship-related topics like a mopey college freshman who’s just endured his or her first break-up, British filmmaker Tony Fisher’s The Trouble with Men and Women proves that formless, navel-gazing tales of sex in the city aren’t simply the province of American indies. After splitting with his girlfriend Deborah, Matt (Joseph McFadden)—at the urging of his cookie-cutter chauvinistic guy friends—embarks on an odyssey of drunken one-night stands and failed trysts, his frustration and pessimism about the likelihood of finding that special someone compounded by the ongoing disintegration of best friends Vinnie (Matthew Delamere) and Suzie’s (Kate Ashfield) six-year union. It’s a portrait of unrewarding nocturnal sexual escapades that no one will mistake for a low-budget variation of Eyes Wide Shut, as Fisher’s DV debut mainly consists of quixotic-bittersweet flashbacks shot with the type of blurring visual effects found on any decent digital camcorder, Vinnie’s barrage of pretentious quotes from Freud and Voltaire, and McFadden’s doggedly bland impersonation of Freddie Prinze Jr. Amid his heart-to-hearts with Suzie, Matt beds his first black woman and has a sloshed girl puke on him during oral foreplay, with Fisher breaking up each narrative segment with jarring TV commercial-ready fade-outs that complement his tin-ear dialogue (“Love—such a big word,” muses Deborah) and expressionistically smudgy interludes involving Matt standing in an airport or the middle of the street gazing about like a lost child (or, more accurately, like an adult dimwit). Dating is tough and promiscuity is unfulfilling—these are the supposedly enlightening lessons offered up by Fisher, whose meandering depiction of amorous dissatisfaction ably validates Vinnie’s contention that “I really don’t see how being empty-headed can be so illuminating.” In its jejune and cruddily constructed reflections on romance, however, The Trouble with Men and Women does make a stirring case in favor of upping the entry cost for independent filmmaking.
- IFC First Take
- 74 min
- Tony Fisher
- Tony Fisher
- Joseph McFadden, Kate Ashfield, Matthew Delamere, Christine Tremarco, Vas Blackwood, Karine Adrover, Karen Tomlin, Neve McIntosh, Christopher Simon
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