VOD film review: A Perfect Man
James R | On 15, Feb 2015
Director: Kees Van Oostrum
Cast: Liev Schreiber, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Watch A Perfect Man online in the UK: Amazon Prime / TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play
What a curious film A Perfect Man is. A romantic drama packaged as a romantic comedy starring two Americans in Amsterdam as a couple simultaneously breaking up and getting together, you never really know what it’s trying to be. The problem is that the film doesn’t seem to know either.
The always fantastic Liev Schreiber gets the spotlight here as James, a married architect whose erections have more to do with other women than buildings. His wife, Nina (Tripplehorn), seems content to keep on forgiving him for his wandering pencil, only to stop their anniversary party halfway through and announce that she’s breaking up with him.
It’s an intriguing first act that sets the stage for a firm alternative to the usual romantic movie fare – but somehow, A Perfect Man still manages to end up unmemorable and mediocre. The script is co-written by Larry Brand and Peter Elkoff – who has just worked on Sons of Anarchy’s final season – but struggles to make us care about either of its two leads.
Schreiber is a charismatic performer, capable of making a suspected serial killer (Scream) or a violent mutant (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) likeable, but even he is hard pressed to engage as the unfaithful man. He begins a journey of growing self awareness and redemption, but it’s undermined every step of the way by his endless romantic conquests.
Jeanne Tripplehorn, meanwhile, gets to play conflicted as the scorned spouse, but finds herself among one of several chronically underdeveloped women; the script’s main function for its female characters appears to be to swoon over James, a fact that only makes the terrible human being even less endearing. One scene sees a young girl walk up to him by an Amsterdam canal. “You had sex with my mum,” she tells him, as if this counts as character depth.
Eventually, James ends up on the phone to a mysterious Dutch woman, flirting and talking about how much he loves his wife, without realising it’s actually her. It’s not hard to guess where the drama is headed from there, despite the uneven tone, which veers from serious soul-searching to attempted comedy. One scene sees James run down the street after a tram, his pet jogging alongside him. You wonder why they didn’t make a film about the dog instead.
According to IMDb – although, at the time of the writing, there is no source to verify this – production was halted on the project in 2000, only for it to be completed several years later. That story only makes this movie (originally called “Dial 9 for Love”) more curious. Sadly, though, that interest never extends to its main characters.
A Perfect Man is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.