Miscalculated 'Treatment'

Friday, July 6, 2007

"The Treatment" gets this year's Rip van Winkle award.

An urbane romantic comedy set in New York City, it seems unaware that Woody Allen has already spent 40 years mining most of the funny stuff to be found in repressed Manhattanites who can't commit to relationships and whose spirited sessions with their analysts amount to postmodern comic relief.

Had filmmaker Oren Rudavsky (who co-adapted Daniel Menaker's 1998 comic novel of the same name) come up with something original, this apparent oversight would have been fine. But the movie's slow-boiling redemption of a schoolteacher (Chris Eigeman) as he tries to get over a breakup and his contentious relationship with a verbally piquant Argentine shrink (a spirited but not especially memorable Ian Holm) simply aren't enough to break free of the cliches.

Eigeman's Jake Singer certainly grows on us, as he warms up to the conveniently widowed and gorgeous school benefactor Allegra Marshall (Famke Janssen). (If the characters were English, Eigeman's role might well have been taken by Colin Firth, whose fussily tortured characters are infinitely more endearing.) And Janssen is appealing as Jake's new object of romantic renaissance. But our emotional involvement remains superficial, and we never get that sense of uplift that Allen's better romantic city tales have given us.

-- Desson Thomson

The Treatment Unrated, 86 minutes Contains sexual situations and profanity. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

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