In Woody Allen's
Stardust Memories, the filmmaker does a scene where he plays a director, much like
himself at the time, who has been segueing from comedy to dramatic films.
When he agrees to go to a film festival, a whole series of people tell him
they love his earlier, funny movies.
Director Oren Rudavsky,
making his feature film debut here after impressive work in
documentaries (A Life Apart, Hiding and Seeking), apparently likes Allen's later, more serious films -- in
which occasional punchlines are only secondary to the introspection and
misery of his affluent, urban characters.
The Treatment feels
like Allen circa Manhattan or Husbands and Wives (though,
honestly, is not as good as either of those). It is done on a smaller
scale and frankly, with less subtlety.
I will come out right now
and admit that I am a huge fan of Chris Eigeman, who used to be the
go-to-guy actor for missing-in-action auteur Whit Stillman (they did
Metropolitan, Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco and even an episode of
Homicide: Life on the Street together in the 1990s.) Eigeman
also starred in one of my favorite short-lived sitcoms of recent years
(It's Like, You Know...) and did a terrific one-year stint on Gilmore
Girls. Therefore, I cheer the fact that he is getting this serious role
rather then his more recent bad luck streak of the likes of a supporting
role in Maid In Manhattan and falling in love with Jenny McCarthy in
the straight-to-video Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Eigeman's
patented big-city angst is tailor-made for this role. I just wish they
gave him a little more realistic character and more clever dialogue.
Eigeman plays Jake Singer, a teacher at
an exclusive prep school. He has recently broken up with fiancée
(Stephanie March) and is now in a complete funk, walking the streets of
Manhattan in a haze. He has regular sessions with the world's most
confrontational psychiatrist (Ian Holm), a nearly crazed Freudian who holds
such sway over Jake's life that he even intrudes on his fantasies and
appears (in Jake's mind) to bully him through all of life's problems.
Jake gets a break from his
misery when he meets Allegra (Famke Janssen), a rich young widow whose son
goes to Jake's school. We never really know for sure what killed her
young husband other than the plot necessity of her being single. Their
neuroses seem to be a perfect fit and the two become friends and then lovers
in near record time, before being torn apart by a just slightly unrealistic
While I love both of the
leads, the cold, hard fact is while they are terrific on their own they
don't have too much chemistry as a couple. Janssen, who is normally a
wonderful actress, feels particularly uncomfortable with the role as
written. Allegra is so shut off from her emotions that Janssen can't
seem to get a hold on them.
So, in the end The
Treatment is a romantic comedy that is neither overly romantic nor
overly funny. Yet, I still feel great affection for this slightly
navel-gazing film. Like its main character, it may be a little too
full of itself but its heart is in the right place and despite all
protestations to the contrary, The Treatment suffers from a big case
of hopeless romanticism. (5/07)
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Posted: May 22, 2007.