What’s the trouble with the truth?

Lea Thompson shines in movie about relationships

Director Jim Hemphill talks with stars John Shea and Lea Thompson on the set of “The Trouble with the Truth” during filming in 2011. Enlarge photo

Winning Edge Partners

Director Jim Hemphill talks with stars John Shea and Lea Thompson on the set of “The Trouble with the Truth” during filming in 2011.

“The Trouble with the Truth” was a 2011 film that flew under the radar of many moviegoers, but those who saw it are nearly unanimous in their praise for it. I add myself to that short list.

Director and writer Jim Hemphill’s film had a limited release that year in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, so it is not a surprise that Durango audiences for the most part missed out. But Hemphill said a positive review on Roger Ebert’s website caught the eye of management at the Back Space Theatre, where it will be shown for the next two weekends.

The film is a simple one. A divorced couple, played by John Shea and Lea Thompson, are brought together upon the news that their daughter Jenny (Danielle Harris) is getting married. From that point on, Shea and Thompson have the screen almost exclusively to themselves. They rehash almost every aspect of their marriage, and we can’t help but feel that their divorce was premature.

The minimalist and simple setting in a hotel and its restaurant, along with the dialog-driven story, make “The Trouble with the Truth” a sort of “Breakfast Club” for grown-ups.

“I’ve never heard that description, but it’s lovely,” Thompson said from her Los Angeles home that she shares with her husband, producer and director Howard Deutch (“Some Kind of Wonderful”) and a small zoo full of animals.

Thompson helped her friend Hemphill in casting and location scouting for the film. That earned her credit as a producer of the film. Her roles are fewer and far between after a successful career on the big and small screens (“Red Dawn,” the “Back to the Future” trilogy and the NBC series “Caroline in the City” among many others). She is able to pick and choose her projects.

“What I like so much is that it’s (Hemphill’s) vision, and it’s really rare to find that, to make the movie you dreamed of making,” she said. “I liked that there’s a lot of tension. You’re so worried about what’s going to happen and the stakes are so high, even though we’re relaxed in the conversation.”

It’s true. As viewers, it seems almost inevitable that the married Emily will end up spending the night with her former husband even though she has remarried. Shea’s Robert has no such dilemma, but we also learn that he is not half the womanizer his wife thought him to be when they split. An onscreen romance is rekindled throughout, and Shea plays his role perfectly. What we see at first as a cocky ladies’ man turns out to be a much more vulnerable and sympathetic character who obviously believes Emily is the one who got away.

Whether “The Trouble with the Truth” is a date movie is debatable. The film raises many issues that could make a couple feel uncomfortable if they’ve experienced the same doubts and uncertainties as Robert and Emily. We learn that passion alone is not enough to sustain a marriage, but neither should mistrust and ennui be enough to end one.

Thompson hasn’t done a film since, but she has stayed busy, because her daughters Madelyn and Zoey are now working in the business as well.

“Now that my daughters are actors, Howard’s working, Maddy’s writing a script, there’s always something going on around here. I’m shooting head shots – it’s very creative at my house,” Thompson said.

While I had her on the phone, I had a few burning questions of my own as a fellow child of the 1980s. First and foremost: Was she as disgusted by the nearly blasphemous remake of “Red Dawn” as I was? Short answer, No.

“It was too bad that it didn’t do well, because I had a friend in it, but no it didn’t disgust me except for the fact that I’m old,” she said. “What was great about that movie was that all the special effects really happened – there was no CGI. Everything that blew up really blew up, and it was really fun.”

ted@durangoherald.com