I’ve been wrestling with Ron Howard‘s The Dilemma for 10 months, or since I first read an October 2009 draft of Allen Loeb‘s script, which was initially called Your Cheating Heart, a.k.a. Untitled Cheating Project. I didn’t agree with the basic set-up, which is that a semi-mature male in his 40s would be on the fence about whether to tell his best friend that his wife may be playing around. Friends always wise each other up. Anyone who would dither and/or procrastinate about levelling with a pal is no pal — it’s that simple.
The Dilemma shot last summer in Chicago and is now about to open on 1.14.14, or two weeks hence. Last October’s “gay” terminology dustup is over and done with, but no one’s seen the film yet…to my knowledge.
Right now I can say only one thing for sure, which is that Vince Vaughn and Steve James look a lot slimmer in the Dilemma one-sheet than they do in the film. They play a couple of extra-beefy auto designers who’ve hooked up with two svelte brunettes — James is married to Winona Ryder and Vaughn is living with Jennifer Connelly. (That’s believable, right?) Anyway, Vaughn seems to be somewhere between his Wedding Crashers and Swingers appearance, and James hasn’t been this slim since high school.
Vaughn and James “will play Chicago-based engine designers Ronnie Valentine and Isaac Backman,” I wrote last February. “Their significant others are Connelly’s Beth (Ronnie’s live-in girlfriend) and Ryder’s Geneva (Isaac’s wife). The central tension is about Ronnie accidentally discovering that Geneva is playing around on Isaac, and the anxieties and trepidations that stem from his not knowing what to do. Should he just blurt out the bad news to Isaac, his business partner and longtime best friend? And if he does, will Isaac somehow blame him for Geneva’s betrayal? Or should he mind his own business and stay out of the lives of others?
“I was immediately repelled by Ronnie’s response because — hello? — there’s only one thing to do. In such a situation his loyalty would be to his longtime friend, not the wife, and so one way or the other he’d have to share what he suspects. No right guy would have to think about this. He’d start out by stressing to his pal that he doesn’t really ‘know’ anything but that he’s seen something disturbing and that maybe something’s up and maybe not. And then he’d suggest that the friend might want to hire a shamus to learn the facts or whatever. But come what may you must share what you’ve seen and/or suspect.
“The fact that jabbering Ronnie — a guy who’s in denial about almost everything, and who fibs all the time like Alibi Ike and has trust issues with everyone — hems and haws throughout the story is infuriating. By my sights the guy has no convictions or cojones, and who wants to spend 110 minutes with a 13 year-old who mostly goes ‘homina-homina-homina’ when faced with a serious issue?”
The Dilemma is junketing in Chicago next weekend. I’m told that the first Chicago junket screening is on Thursday, 1.6. The first New York media screening is reportedly set for Tuesday, 1.11.