It's a testament to writer-director Jim Hemphill's enjoyably chatty script and to the hand-in-glove performances of his charismatic leads that "The Trouble With the Truth," a movie that's largely just one long, real-time conversation between two people, proves such an alive and involving film.
Despite taking place in only a few indoor locations — and without an excess of movement within those spots — Hemphill deftly manages to avoid the kind of static staginess often associated with this sort of chamber piece. Instead, he plunks us swiftly and intimately into the lives of a long-divorced couple, womanizing lounge musician Robert (John Shea) and remarried novelist Emily (Lea Thompson), as they meet for drinks, dinner and dissection upon Emily's arrival in L.A. for a business trip.
And quite the catch-up it is as the two, who share a just- engaged daughter (Danielle Harris, seen briefly in the opening), move through a probing series of verbal volleys that recount the history of their 14-year marriage from youthful idealism to disillusionment and infidelity.
Thanks to the residual love and attraction between the pair, this cocktail-fueled reunion never descends into a "Virginia Woolf"-like grudge match but, rather, remains an equitable, tender, sometimes surprising game of hard truth-telling.
"The Trouble With the Truth." MPAA rating: R for some language including sexual references. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. At the Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood.