Directed by Jim Hemphill Starring Lea Thompson, John Shea Indie Film Reviewby Phil Slatter
Essentially a film split into three separate scenes and featuring only three meaningful speaking roles, The Trouble With The Truth is a simple yet effective drama that manages to invoke an awful lot of thoughts and ideas without much actually happening in it.
The opening scene introduces us to Robert (John Shea) and his daughter Jenny (Danielle Harris) who announces that she has just gotten engaged. Robert is not overly pleased with this, initially arguing that Jenny’s would-be husband is not up to scratch.
The rest of the film consists of a conversation between Robert and his ex-wife and Jenny’s mother Emily (Lea Thompson). Over drinks, dinner and dessert, they discuss their own failed marriage, their own personalities, fidelity, infidelity and everything else in between as we slowly learn the reason behind Robert’s subdued reaction to Jenny’s news is connected to his own failures as a husband. The set-up of two individuals discussing life and their relationships throughout an entire film is a technique Richard Linklater employed in his Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy so effortlessly and writer/director Jim Hemphill here proves to be an equally adept hand at such a structure.
It’s not an easy thing to make two people talking to one another in a room an invigorating cinematic experience and while structurally this may fit better on the stage, Hemphill’s well written script is brought to life by the two leads with Thompson and Shea’s experience vital to ensuring that The Trouble with the Truth works as well as it does.
Thematically it manages to expunge its themes by examining the central relationship from an interesting start point. The fact that Robert and Jenny are no longer a couple means they can be totally honest with one another about past indiscretions, how they really feel about life and love with the truth no longer being shrouded by a pretence or a desire to make the other happy.
The very title underlines the problem facing them both – by being honest they grow close once again but this presents problems and asks the question of whether they’re suited to being just good friends or husband and wife. This fascinating through-line not only sets up the final act well in terms of what will happen but also has the audience trying to work out what would be best for Robert and Jenny as they clearly don’t always make the right choices. That it ends on something of an ambiguous, open cliff-hanger provides a suitable finishing though.
The score is used sparingly and the few supporting characters do little more than drive elements of the plot along, managing not to distract from the central idea, and while some may find the ongoing dialogue and lack of real plot development somewhat tedious, this is a well-meaning and well executed character study of the problem with honesty when it comes to love.