The Trouble with the Truth is a two-lead character piece by writer/director Jim Hemphill that stars John Shea as Robert and Lea Thompson as Emily, a divorced couple who meet up for dinner and talk about the past, rediscover their history and maybe even remind each other why they went their separate ways in the first place. In what could be clichéd, we instead witness a constructive, insightful story that’s charmingly achieved alongside captivating performances from both actors.
We open with Robert meeting his daughter Jenny (Danielle Harris) for breakfast and after classic parent chit-chat, she announces her engagement and at first he’s less than positive in his reproach. Robert thinks she can do better but he’s not really listening despite Jenny being more than content with her choices. After he concedes a ‘congratulations’, Jenny points out that her Mother, his ex-wife, is in town and it obviously perks his interest, so he arranges to meet up with her.
From the moment Emily and Robert arrive for dinner, you can feel the comfortable chemistry, even if it’s been a while since they saw each other and even if Robert is slightly nervous about it. Overall, the film feels like a script that’d would work well on stage and be just as effective and interesting as Robert and Emily discuss their current lives, their marriage of 14 years and other subjects regarding love, sex and the truth on how they feel about it now.
Despite the lead characters being in their late 40s, I wouldn’t necessarily say this would only suit an older audience but one of such ilk may be able to appreciate the story set out before them. There’s something to be said for discussion of memories and nostalgia trips on film, and it doesn’t always have to feel like it was something that no-one else can understand. I found that The Trouble with the Truth reflected moments I’ve had and situations I’ve encountered and, amusingly, if you were in a restaurant near our couple-in-focus, it’d be hard not to listen in.
Much like the underrated This Is 40, Jim Hemphill’s writing suggests some of this was based in reality and that 40-something perspective offers up an insightful in-depth character expose on both sides of the sexes. While Robert openly admits his addiction to younger women and his comfortableness with the lack of attachment, it doesn’t feel uneasy because he’s not hiding who he is. Over the runtime he reveals more of this character, and to his ex-wife, but she’s not surprised either because she realises this is who he always was, and it’s probably the reason why they broke up.
On the flip-side of their history, Emily offers up candid insights in her new relationship and although successful as a writer and happy within herself, you get a sense that she’s still eager for unexpected excitement. Is this something only Robert can offer, or is this a fantasy they’ve both bought into? It’s discussed that their ‘always talking’ connection is what makes others jealous but I do feel an easy silence can work just as well as a chatty one. This edge towards slight couple narcissism is a common one in relationships with a vast history because when you know someone so well, there’s nothing to hide, so you can talk about anything without being concerned over who is nearby.
The Trouble with the Truth is a small, focused film but over time reveals a wonderfully huge history; it’s also a fitting title because of their eventual conversations and a reflection of how Robert and Emily talk about their life and beliefs. Lea Thomson and John Shea offer a genuine, honest insight into their own existence and how people may – or may not – change as time goes by. Their captivating performances are softly directed as we are enticed into their world with a free flowing, natural script that interconnects effortlessly between subjects. Smart work all round.
The Trouble with the Truth is available on Amazon Prime – Click here to watch now.
You can also find more on the writer and director over on his site: www.jimhemphillfilms.com