I don’t usually watch a lot of Romantic Comedies, mostly on the basis that RomComs are so pedantic and uninspiring as to be insulting to one’s intelligence. As such, my intermittent doses of RomComs usually come about when the star of said RomCom is someone I find appealing that their presence transcends the genre in which they are wallowing in. Jennifer Love Hewitt, the star of the UK production “The Truth About Love”, is such a person. So sue me, but I find the little lady from Dallas, Texas to be terribly appealing. So much so, in fact, that I willingly suspend disbelief and allow myself to be convinced that she’s a married British woman, accent and all.
“The Truth About Love” opens with Archie (Dougray Scott, “Mission Impossible II”) confessing via voiceover his unrequited love for Alice (Hewitt), who is married to his college chum and law partner Sam (Jimi Mistry, “The Guru”). As Archie is our hero and leading man, we can’t be expected to hate the bloke for having a crush on his mate’s wife, especially since Sam is not only cheating on poor Alice, but when the opportunity presents itself, is willing to cheat on his mistress, too! What a guy, this Sam. As played by Mistry, Sam is an all-around cad too concern with his own pleasures to worry about anyone else’s.
The story gets interesting when Alice receives an anonymous love letter from Archie (he had written it, then sent it, during one drunken night). This leads to Alice’s promiscuous sister Felicity (the very funny Kate Miles, who steals the show whenever she’s onscreen) suggesting that Sam is not entirely faithful. Alice resolves to prove sis wrong by sending Sam an anonymous love letter, betting that Sam will tell her about it. Oh how wrong she was. Sam instead hides the letter and continues to contact his mysterious admirer (his own wife), eventually getting involved in phone sex before graduating to late-night rendezvous in poor Archie’s empty apartment in the city.
Since “Truth” is a Romantic Comedy, there’s no use wondering if Alice and Archie will eventually get together by film’s end. The answer is Yes, they eventually do. Did you think they wouldn’t? But it’s how the two get there that’s fun. Although it’s a little difficult to buy Jennifer Love Hewitt as a married woman (she’s still much too young, and at times her age betrays her), but nevertheless, Hewitt decked out in lingerie straight out of Victoria’s Secret is more than enough to make one suspense disbelief for however long she requires it. And while the lovely Ms. Hewitt still hasn’t graduated to the school of Sharon Stone ala “Basic Instincts”, she is nevertheless very sexy in the role.
Despite the fact that his character opens the film with voiceover narration, it’s interesting to note that Dougray Scott is missing for much of the film’s middle, only showing up intermittently to remind us that he’s actually the leading man. This is probably due to the filmmakers having fallen in love with Jimi Mistry’s cad, so much so that Mistry ends up with more screentime, not to mention more depth, than Scott. As a result, the film’s final third, when Alice and Archie finally come together, is less convincing. Of course it probably doesn’t help that Scott has about a decade or two on Hewitt, and Hewitt doesn’t play “mature” all that well.
The other character that should have had more screentime is Kate Miles’ sexually active sister. Miles does wonders for the film whenever she’s onscreen, but instead Miles probably has less screentime than Sam’s Russian mistress (Branka Katic). I’m not entirely sure what was the point of showing the mistress so often, since we never really learn anything about her except 1) she’s Russian and 2) she’s the jealous type. And oh yeah, she’s a painter, if that’s important to you. Not that Katic is bad in the role, it’s just that her character is background, and should have been left there.
“The Truth About Love” does indeed follow the conventions of the RomCom formula quite dutifully, although it does throw in a couple of wrinkles. Once Alice has her suspicions about her husband’s infidelity confirmed, instead of turning her back on the marriage, she decides to try to save it, much to Archie and Felicity’s (not to mention the audience’s) chagrin. This was an unexpected twist, and it leads to Jennifer’s best scene, when her hopes of reconciliation aren’t just dashed, but completely crushed, by Sam’s confession that he was never in love with her.
Fans of Jennifer Love Hewitt will no doubt get more out of “The Truth About Love” than the casual viewer. I found it consistently entertaining and funny, although not entirely as romantic as it should have been. (Once again, this is probably due to a lack of screentime for Scott, and a lack of shared screens between the Archie and Alice character in the first two acts.) Ironically, although she started out life as a Hollywood starlet, Hewitt has probably done her best screen work in “Truth” and her previous British outing, the fantasy “If Only”. And hey, her English accent is pretty good; another couple of Brit flicks and she should sound more British than Madonna.
John Hay (director)
CAST: Jennifer Love Hewitt …. Alice Holbrook
Dougray Scott …. Archie Gray
Jimi Mistry …. Sam Holbrook
Branka Katic …. Katya
Kate Miles …. Felicity
Simon Webbe …. Dan Harlow