When Rx Is A Curse, Not A Cure, For The Dysfunctional Relationship
The Popcorn Reel Movie Review: "The Treatment"
By Omar P.L. Moore/June 13, 2007
Three's very crowded: Famke Janssen as Allegra, and Chris Eigeman as Jake,
with Ian Holm as Dr. Ernesto Morales lurking in the background, in Oren
Rudavsky's comedy-drama "The Treatment", which opens on Friday, June 15.
(Photo: New Yorker Films)
"The Treatment" is a great example of the kind of film that
works better on television (or on the Broadway stage) than it does on the big
screen. Oren Rudavsky's comedy of sex, heartbreak and psychology plays as
an earnestly decent story set in the Big Apple, but it lacks life. In such
an energetic city as New York, one might have expected story pacing on the
breezy level of TV's "Sex And The City", but this is a film with slightly
deeper, more serious aspirations.
Jacob "Jake" Singer (Chris Eigeman) and Allegra Marshall (Famke
Janssen) are coming out of difficult situations. Jake is still pining for
Julia (Stephanie March), the woman that broke his heart when she ended their
relationship over a year ago, and Allegra is still shattered by the sudden loss
of her husband, rendering her a single mother. Jake, a high school
teacher, also has to contend with the school's harsh, take-no-prisoners
basketball coach (Stephen Lang).
On a "chance" meeting in the city Julia suggests that Jake see a psychiatrist.
Enter Ian Holm as Dr. Ernesto Morales.
And unfortunately, as amusing as Mr. Holm is as the bizarrely eccentric doctor,
his character is the film's biggest problem, not to mention Jake's biggest
Morales is an awkward fixture in Jake's life, showing up in
his subconscious at the most inopportune moments, and though on occasion there
is a modicum of levity arises from his presence, there isn't much else.
Morales is a figment of Jake's and the audience's imagination, rendered all but
unnecessary to the film (even if much of the central story and film's title
refer squarely to the doctor.) "The Treatment" does very well just
focusing on Jake's attempt to recover from Julia's impending wedding and seek a
new relationship, namely in the personage of Allegra. Mr. Rudavsky and
Daniel Saul Housman excel when writing the scenes between the two troubled lead
characters, but don't seem to know what to do with Mr. Holm's doctor. By
the time we have seen Dr. Morales three or four times there is nothing fresh or
new to learn about him. He is a constant and unchangeable gimmick, the
film's comic relief gone stale.
Two's terrific: Famke Janssen as Allegra and Chris Eigeman as Jake in Oren
Rudavsky's "The Treatment". (Photo: New Yorker Films)
As already mentioned, of greater interest are the story threads involving Jake
and Allegra -- the tension between them is well rendered.
Ms. Janssen in particular is good at fomenting the physical tension and longing
she exudes as a widowed character who has long forgotten what being in the arms
of another man feels like. Her young son Alex (Eli Katz) is all she has,
but Allegra is willing to go out on a limb to trust again and put the lexicon of
a love life back in her vocabulary. Janssen gives Allegra realism and
complexity, along with sexiness and an eroticism that is subtle yet very
powerful. When Allegra quietly tells Jake to use his imagination, she
barely looks at him. That line is spoken as a throwaway -- she could just
as well be throwing off her clothes at Jake with the dismissive utterance of the
As for Mr. Eigeman, his Jake wears a wounded heart all over his face. He
portrays hurt, vulnerability and a sense of low-self esteem almost perfectly.
The writers add Harris Yulin as Jake's father Dr. Arnold Singer, and the few
scenes that Mr. Yulin and Mr. Eigeman share also elicit a tension that reflects
a strained father-son relationship. In fact, everything for Jake is a
struggle and a tension. Even a cheeky moment featuring Allegra's mother
Claire (Elizabeth Hubbard), Allegra and Jake, has tension. Moments like
this however, are played for laughs. There are other instances like these
(including with former "Caroline In The City" actor Blair Brown as realtor Ms.
Callucci) and "The Treatment", based on the novel by Daniel Menaker, is at is
best when they are on display.
Having said that, "The Treatment", which has its fair share of well-placed
metaphors, would be infinitely more interesting as an ongoing weekly television
drama series -- following the travails of Jake, Allegra and Dr. Morales -- whose
now-you-see-him-now-you-don't existence would undoubtedly be far less annoying
on television than it is here. Even the film's colorful, beautiful and
brief opening credits and music (by John Zorn) would play suitably on the small
"The Treatment" opens on Friday, June 15 in New York and Los Angeles.
The film is not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America, but features
light sexual content, sexual dialogue, brief violence, and language. The
film's duration is one hour and 26 minutes. Mr. Rudavsky dedicates his
film "to the last of the great Freudians, J.R.G.", and to the memory of Peter
Copyright The Popcorn Reel. PopcornReel.com. 2007. All Rights