Nearly three years after it made its debut at the 2003 London Film
Festival, Tony Fisher's directorial debut
THE TROUBLE WITH MEN + WOMEN
is bowing here in the States. And while there are aspects of it that scream
"first film" (sequences that go on too long, arty flashbacks) and "low budget"
(the sound quality varies wildly sometimes within a scene), there is still
something intriguing if predictable about this romance set among slackers
in London.

The hero is Matt (Joseph McFadden), in his late twenties and comfortably
in a relationship with Deborah (Neve McIntosh). At least he thinks it's a success.
She, on the other hand, has decided to accept a job in the US and to break
up with Matt. Except for saying "it's not you, it's me," she mouths a bunch of
clichés and heads across the Atlantic, leaving behind many of her belongings.
Matt, who works serving coffee at an Internet café, is devastated. His pals
Vinnie (Matthew Delamere) and Travis (Vas Blackwood) attempt to get him
back in the game, but their advice backfires. Vinnie's long suffering girlfriend
Susie (Kate Ashfield) decides to set Matt up, again with predictably bad results.
The woman vomits wine on him as she attempts to engage in a sex act.

Matt doesn't fare much better on his own when he picks up a French
woman (Karine Adrover) on the subway. In an attempt to subvert the "meet
cute," Fisher (who also wrote the screenplay) has them make eye contact
as each is reading a book. She offers hers to him, which turns out to be
a pornographic novel about bondage. They engage in a three-day affair that
ends abruptly when the woman spots photographs of Deborah around the
apartment and has the realization that Matt may not be fully over his
ex-girlfriend.

Then, what has been telegraphed almost from the beginning occurs.
I won't offer a plot spoiler for those who might wish to see this film. Suffice
it to say that the expected occurs. There are complications, of course, and
Matt runs away rather than face them. But he finally returns, a bit wiser
and attempts to make amends, so that the movie can end on a note of
tentative happiness.

The main actors, McFadden (a Scottish heartthrob perhaps known to
American audiences for his role in 1996's
SMALL FACES), Ashfield (the leading
lady of
SHAUN OF THE DEAD), and Delamere, are all fine. The handheld
camerawork can be occasionally dizzying and, as noted, the sound
quality is variable.
THE TROUBLE WITH MEN + WOMEN doesn't really
offer much that's new in terms of relationships, but perhaps that's part
of its charm.


Rating:                C
MPAA Rating:        None (language, sexual situations, brief nudity)
Running time:       74 mins.


                        Viewed on DVD

In theaters and available on Video on Demand                                
The Trouble with Men + Women
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.