A Perfect Man (R)

Drama 95 November 1, 2013
By Michael Nordine
Kees Van Oostrum’s A Perfect Man tweaks the epistolary conceit established by The Shop Around the Corner and updated in You’ve Got Mail by observing a philanderer (Liev Schreiber) falling back in love with his wife (Jeanne Tripplehorn) over the phone when she puts on an accent and invents a persona. It’s never really explained why she bothers with all this, considering he’s a repeat cheater who doesn’t display the slightest interest in changing his ways until he reaches rock bottom. The scenes in which Schreiber, thinking he's speaking to an embodiment of his dream girl, finally reveals himself to be more than a dopey adulterer nevertheless manage to be somewhat affecting, but by the time the emotional phone sex peaks, both his character and the film as a whole have lost our good faith that either is especially worthwhile. Tripplehorn, who's been given the more nuanced role, turns in the more affecting performance — she's vulnerable and somehow manages to seem inclined to forgive her dumbass of a husband without coming across as weak. Had Van Oostrum realized that most scenes not involving Tripplehorn’s alluring alter ego could have been excised, A Perfect Man may have been more than serviceable; as is, it's too bland to inspire strong feelings of any kind.
Kees Van Oostrum Jeanne Tripplehorn, Liev Schreiber, Joelle Carter, Renee Soutendijk, Huub Stapel, Kevin Rooney, Louise Fletcher Larry Brand, Peter Elkoff IFC Films

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