Today: February 24, 2024
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Dilemma Cinema Review

“How do you really know someone?” is the question posed at the
start of Ron Howard’s (The Da Vinci Code) relationship comedy, as two
couples – Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin James, Winona Ryder –
dine at a swank-looking Chicago restaurant. How can we ever, truly know
one another when in a relationship? Some men are, after all, bygamists,
as Vaughn’s 40-year old marriage dodger Ronny argues. But while there
are no cross-country twin families to be found in the ensuing two hours,
there is drama aplenty as friendships and relationships come under the
microscope.

Ronny (Vaughn) and (Nick)
James are best friends, former college buds, who have gone into
business with their own motor engine design company. Nick’s the
company’s brains, and happily married to Geneva (Ryder), and Ronny the company’s frontman, and dating Beth (Connelly). Perfect jobs, perfect relationships, perfect lives. That is until, with a mega-bucks deal with General Motors looming, Ronny sees Nick’s wife cavorting with another man – does he tell his friend
and risk wrecking the deal, or deliver the bad news knowing full well
that it will destroy him, and their company? Quite a conundrum!

Howard’s movie was spawned by a dinner table discussion with producer Brian Grazer
in which they pondered what they would do in such a situation, and the
resulting film from this off-the-cuff conversation topic tours the
possibilities that each and every response could provoke. Ronny’s
confrontation with Geneva – “You tell him or I will! – merely sparks a
succession of events that plunges the couples in to a whirl pool of lies
and betrayal as secrets are dug up, past indiscretions returned to, and
their seemingly flawless relationships put through the wringer.

The film fluctuates wildly in tone, it has to be said. Much as in the similarly themed The Break Up, the balance between comedy and drama is often uneven, and flits from serious and surprisingly well-observed drama to slapstick comedy,
and is shaped as much around Vaughn’s (who also acts as producer)
motor-mouthed shtick as it is relationship insights. Yet there are some
to be had, as behind the curtain of any relationship all may not be as
it seems, to either those on the outside or the inside. Trust issues,
selfish acts, a lack of communication, Alan Loeb’s script takes it all
in, its quartet of characters each revealed to be flawed in their own
way.

Veering away from this dramatic territory into the regions of farce
in places, stretching credibility with it, The Dilemma does find its fair share of laughs, albeit most of these dependent upon your attitude towards Vaughn, yet some of them dramatically miss the mark. Queen Latifah‘s sex-obsessed, General Motor’s executive is a turn-off, Channing Tatum‘s
tattooed yet terribly insecure hunk is a curious creation indeed – one
minute crying and unable to keep in his emotions, the next he’s
brandishing a baseball bat to Ronny’s head – and Jennifer Connelly’s
Beth is terribly underwritten too, featuring the least out of the four.

But The Dilema is as much about the relationship between two
friends as it is their relationships with the opposite sex. It’s a
bromance of sorts, with Vaughn and James the perfect odd-couple, and a
cut above the usual relationship comedies.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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