Dir/scr. Bart Freundlich. US, 2005. 103 mins.

An enjoyable and high-spirited romp, Trust The Manis one of the brightest and most uplifting US indiecomedies of late. A screwball romantic comedy, it may not be to all tastes, andthose averse to plot loopholes are advised to stay clear. But Bart Freundlich's fourth feature should play well to audienceswith a sense of whimsy and a romantic streak, and who enjoy feeling uplifted andoptimistic after the final credits have rolled.

With a marketable cast andthe right release date, Trust The Man should enjoy brisk business, possibly becoming abreakout indie hit and travelling well. Video andcable should likewise be healthy.

At Toronto, Fox SearchlightPictures took rights to North America (it has pencilled in a 2006 release) anda raft of international territories, including France, Japan, Mexico, SouthKorea, Hong Kong and Argentina.

The story revolves aroundthe lives of two New York couples: Rebecca, a famous actress and Tom (JulianneMoore and David Duchovny), who are married with twoyoung children; and Rebecca's brother Tobey and hisgirlfriend Elaine (Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal), long-term lovers whose relationship isreaching a crossroads.

Rebecca is in rehearsals fora Broadway play, while Tom, her stay-at-home husband, has difficulty settlinginto life as Mr Mom; Tobey meanwhile is a sportswriter clearly struggling with the idea of growing up (his email address beginswith "assman") while Elaine is looking formore of a commitment.

Both men are tempted byother women: Tobey by his ex Faith (Eva Mendes) and Tomby single mom Pamela (Dagmara Dominczyk).

Tom also has the addedproblem of being sexually obsessed, which he puts down to Moore's refusal tosleep with him. It sparks two memorably hilarious scenes: one involving Garry Shandling as a marriage counsellor, another in which Moore narratesa porn film in sterile fashion as Duchovnymasturbates.

Moore is on excellent formagain and Duchovny turns in a winning performance, displayinga real knack for comedy. The other two leads and the supporting cast all add tothe screwball Manhattan tableau created by Freundlich.

The only major flaw with Trust The Manare some glitches in the plotting. While Tobey looksgood and exudes charm in an extended adolescence kind of a way, it's hard tosee why Elaine has stayed with him for as long as seven years.

But it's a minor complaint, andthe fact that this is Freundlich's most assured featureto date is in no small part through the expert photography from Tim Orr. Othertechnical credits are all above par, while the soundtrack features plenty ofrecognisable indie tunes.

Production companies
Process Productions
Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

US distribution
Fox Searchlight

International sales
Capitol Films

Executive producers
Marina Grasic
Evelyn O'Neill

Sidney Kimmel
Tim Perell

Tim Orr

John Gilroy

Production design
Kevin Thompson

Clint Mansell

Main cast
Julianne Moore
David Duchovny
Billy Crudup
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Liam Broggy
Eva Mendes
Bob Balaban
Ellen Barkin
James Le Gros
Garry Shandling