Directed by: Jim Hemphill
Starring: Lea Thompson, John Shea, Danielle Harris, Keri Lynn Pratt, Rainy Kerwin, Ira Heiden
The Trouble With the Truth isn't a movie that makes much sense on paper. It's fueled by dialogue between just two characters — Emily and Robert, once married, now divorced — and the entire film consists of only a few scenes, as the two reconnect throughout the course of one evening.
There are no massive plot twists or explosions. This isn't the kind of film that grabs you immediately. Instead, it quietly seeps into your heart and soul, taking its time to establish characters and their motivations. Rather than assuming that audiences need constant action to be entertained, The Trouble With the Truth relies on good dialogue as its backbone.
This film showcases the power of strong writing. With an engaging and realistic script, writer and director Jim Hemphill doesn't need anything more than two workable actors, an intimate dinner table and plenty of intense conversation to make a good movie. Rarely has a film relied on the skill of its writer more than The Trouble With the Truth, and, thankfully, Hemphill is talented enough to take on the challenge. With a run time of 96 minutes, the film never drags or feels overlong.
In a film that essentially only features two characters, a lot of weight is put on the actors. For the most part, The Trouble With the Truth delivers in this regard too. Emily is played by Lea Thompson with a deep sense of the emotional depth that the role requires. She's sexy and quick on her feet, but under the surface, she's battling her fair share of demons. John Shea plays her self-indulgent, yet charming, ex-husband. Robert's flighty intellectual ramblings sometimes border on annoying, but in his interactions with Emily, Shea steals the show.
The score is subtle and effective, only making itself known during the film's quietest moments. If there's one complaint that can be made about The Trouble With the Truth, it's with the lighting. Often the reds feel harsher than necessary, and sometimes shadows play annoyingly across the characters' faces. Still, as the film progresses, the bright red lighting begins to feel warm rather than sharp. It's another testament to the writing, I believe, because by the end of the film, everything feels decidedly cozy and intimate, even as Emily and Robert are faced with decisions that are anything but comfortable.
The Trouble With the Truth is a lovely little film. It's nothing life changing, but it's an honest snapshot into two lives, intricately woven together, for better or for worse, and I'm very glad to have watched it. I feel like I know these characters. I care about what happens to them next. They are real to me. And, if nothing else, that is the truest sign of a good movie.
By Schyler Martin