The trouble with calling your movie something like The Trouble with Men and Women is you create the expectation that you will actually be providing a little insight into the issue. Granted, the relationship riddle is an ongoing human dilemma that isn't likely to be solved anytime soon, but countless pieces of fiction in every medium are always finding something to say on the topic. At the very least, when the story reaches its end, the spectator will have learned something about what two people are doing to reconcile their love problems. Isn't that what we watch relationship movies for?
The Trouble with Men and Women was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Tony Fisher. It concerns itself with Matt (Joseph McFadden, Small Faces), a clerk at an internet café in London. Matt was recently dumped by his girlfriend (Karen Tomlin), and he keeps running her parting shots over and over in his head, presumably trying to divine what it was she meant by the things she said. His buddies, the ridiculously crass Travis (Vas Blackwood, One Love) and the poseur cynic Vinnie (Matthew Delamere, 8 1/2 Women), have the usual advice: get laid and get over it. But we're lead to believe Matt is a romantic, and not only does he want his sex to mean something, he wants to know that his lost relationship meant something, too.
The Trouble with Men and Women is a bit of a cliché, a gutless indie romance that has absolutely no romance whatsoever. If Matt is as lovelorn as he says he is, then trust me, his memories of a long-term relationship would consist of more than the final conversations with his lover. When he replays the moments where she tells him that she doesn't believe in love, he'd also remember the good times they had in order to cling to them as proof that she was somehow lying, that she really cared. If nothing else, he should remember them for us, because we weren't there and it would be nice to know there is something worth being this mopey about. Fisher fakes it by going to that regular movie fallback: home movie-style shots of the couple running around at the park. No dialogue, no meaningful interaction, just running, falling, and laughing on the grass. Let me say this outright. If you see a movie and it depicts a lost relationship in this manner, it's like an alarm going off to inform you that the writer is emotionally cowardly. He'd like you to think that he's honest because he's embracing the truth and the truth is about pain, but really, he's too chicken to give you what a romantic movie requires. If there were no good times, then there would be no point to being so hurt and upset, you know what I mean?
Instead what Fisher gives us are long scenes of people endlessly talking about relationship myths culled from better-written films like Swingers and sitcoms like Friends. The scenes of Matt being coached on flirting are embarrassingly familiar, and the rundown of possible sexual partners at a party is borderline misogynistic. Point of fact, for a movie called The Trouble with Men and Women, it's really a lot more about the trouble with men and not so much about the women. Matt's new French girlfriend (Karine Ardover) couldn't be more of a Fox News depiction of a French person if she was wearing a beret and smoking a clove cigarette. Vinnie's girlfriend, Susie (Kate Ashfield, Shaun of the Dead), is the closest we get to a real human being in the picture, and if there is any theme or message to be gleaned from The Trouble with Men and Women, it's in her interaction with Matt.
What I think Tony Fisher is trying to say with his film is that the divide isn't between the sexes, but it's an overall problem between the two types of people he presents. Those who believe in love like Matt and Susie invariably date the wrong people, the amateur philosophers like Vinnie. As a character, Vinnie is like a walking example of everything that is wrong with films like this. He has come up with so many reasons not to tell his girlfriend that he loves her, he misses the one very obvious reason--that she's standing right there in front of him and she wants to hear it. It's kind of a simple solution.
Yet, The Trouble with Men and Women is as blind to the answer as Vinnie. It spends so much time not showing us the love, it forgets that's what we put the DVD in our player to see. When romance does come at the end, it's tacked on, and for all the honesty Fisher probably tried to capture, he comes off as the most dishonest when the truth would have mattered the most.
The disc has English and Spanish subtitles.