The Trouble with the Truth stars John Shea and Lea Thompson in a 90 minute conversation that maintains a sense of flow for the entire film. The way the cameras follow them, the way the two actors deliver thousands of lines apiece as if each one just occurred to them, and the chemistry between the actors somehow makes this long conversation work.
The remarkable thing about this movie is you don’t get the feeling that it’s just talking heads. There’s no sense that the actors move from take to take, no sense that somebody is thinking about continuity behind the scenes. You’re witnessing an ongoing conversation in progress. Flow.
Robert and Emily were married for 14 years. They have been long divorced. Emily is remarried to an attorney. Robert beds younger women and avoids commitment. The story begins when Robert and Emily’s daughter Jenny (Danielle Harris) lets her parents know she’s going to marry an accountant.
Robert is a failed musician who plays the piano bar of a hotel for a living. Emily is a successful novelist. They meet for drinks and dinner shortly after their daughter announces her engagement.
The scene wanders lazily from hotel bar to restaurant to restaurant lounge to Emily’s hotel room. That’s all the action in the film. The entirety of the film is the performances by John Shea and Lea Thompson in conversation – the tone of voice, a look in the eyes, a turn of the mouth, the leaning in, the pulling back. The conversation is complicated and circles back on itself at times. These two actors make it feel so real and seamless it’s hard to remember it’s scripted and not just a wandering exploration over drinks and dinner.
They rehash everything. They discover changes – growth and ossification. They still love each other, still feel something. They explore what worked and didn’t – or would and wouldn’t. This is not a young person’s movie. You have to be a certain age. You have to bring your own regrets and failures, your own struggles with aging, your own understanding of life’s truths. This is not a young person’s movie. You have to be a certain age. You have to bring your own regrets and failures, your own struggles with aging, your own understanding of life’s truths.
Although both characters have plenty to say, it’s Robert who gets all the best lines and who gets to explain himself most fully. Emily isn’t slighted, exactly. But Robert’s choices are the ones that matter. Even though Robert is commitment phobic and a total narcissist, he’s the one who is ultimately wise enough to face the truth.
The film was written and directed by Jim Hemphill. It was released in 2011. It’s available now on DVD and from Amazon Instant.
Have you seen The Trouble with the Truth? If you have, please share your reactions in the comments.