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A Perfect Man: Film Review

The Bottom Line

Tale of infidelity is tone-deaf in half a dozen ways.

Opens

Friday, Nov. 1 (IFC)

Cast

Jeanne Tripplehorn, Liev Schreiber, Joelle Carter, Louise Fletcher, Renee Soutendijk, Huub Stapel, Katie Carr

Director-Producer

Kees Van Oostrum

Liev Schreiber stars as a chronically unfaithful husband who's finally dumped by his wife, played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, in Kees Van Oostrum's feature debut.

Sour infidelity drama or bizarrely forgiving, off-key rom-com? Even the filmmakers don't seem sure in Kees Van Oostrum's A Perfect Man, which offers Liev Schreiber as a philandering husband and Jeanne Tripplehorn as the wife who has finally had enough. Both actors are badly served by their first-time director, but it's hard to see what drew them to Larry Brand and Peter Elkoff's script in the first place. A disastrous opening engagement in New York ended before the week was up, and slinking through the country in here-and-there bookings, it's hard to imagine much reason for box-office optimism.

The setup certainly portends dark things: After learning that her husband James is having yet another affair, Tripplehorn's Nina continues as planned with their anniversary party until, with a sangfroid no one in the audience will believe, she publicly announces that their marriage is over.

She goes to camp on a friend's couch, leaving James to wander the streets and have disturbing encounters with women half his age: A college-age kid approaches him with the world's classiest pick-me-up line, "I think you f----- my mom." Her bizarre outbursts of chuckling for the duration of the encounter lends the impression that twisted psychodrama lies ahead.

Instead, a chirpy score and some would-be-comic pratfalls point in another direction. Nina starts a phone-only communication with James, convincing him she's a total stranger; before long, he's opening up about how much he loves his wife and now sees the error of his ways.

The screenplay's easy-peasy psychoanalysis of infidelity could only really be accepted by screenwriters intent on reuniting a terrible man with a woman who, though hardly a person of substance, deserves better. The whole thing reeks of fiction being used to process missteps in its makers' own lives. This story isn't nearly ready to leave the shrink's couch.

Production Company: Double Eagle

Cast: Jeanne Tripplehorn, Liev Schreiber, Joelle Carter, Louise Fletcher, Renee Soutendijk, Huub Stapel, Katie Carr

Director-Producer: Kees Van Oostrum

Screenwriters: Larry Brand, Peter Elkoff

Executive producers: Gary W. Wilkes

Director of photography: Joost van Gelder

Production designer: Jeaninne Oppewall

Music: Jeff Cardoni

Costume designer: Yan Tax

Editor: Michiel Reichwein

Rated R, 94 minutes