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Friday, August 24, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"The Treatment" finds life, love between therapy sessions

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

Showtimes

"The Treatment," with Chris Eigeman, Ian Holm, Famke Janssen, Harris Yulin, Eli Katz, Roger Rees. Directed by Oren Rudavsky, from a screenplay by Daniel Saul Housman and Rudavsky, based on the novel by Daniel Menaker.

86 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences.

All is not well for Jake Singer (Chris Eigeman), a 40ish New Yorker whose life seems to be one long uphill climb; he keeps trying to get a toehold, but the rocks just slip away. His gorgeous ex-girlfriend (Stephanie March) is engaged to someone more successful; his father (Harris Yulin) is distant; his shrink (Ian Holm) is a nutcase Freudian martinet; and his students at a posh prep school keep asking questions like "Why did Chekhov have to write about such total losers?" And then, along comes the woman that could change everything: Allegra (Famke Janssen), an elegant widow with a sweetly vulnerable smile.

Are there complications? Of course: "The Treatment" is a New York neurotic romantic comedy (yes, go ahead and blame Woody Allen for the genre if you want), and Jake and Allegra must endure countless fumblings and mumblings before the finish line. But Oren Rudavsky's movie, based on Daniel Menaker's 1998 novel and scripted by Rudavsky and Daniel Saul Housman, has a genuine warmth; its blundering characters are made likable by the actors' honest performances and the filmmakers' clear affection for them.

Eigeman, best known for recurring roles on television's "Malcolm in the Middle" and "Gilmore Girls," steps out as a leading man here, and he's got a wry way with a line. When Allegra wonders why Jake has such trouble with his therapist, when their sessions are supposed to make him more comfortable in his skin, Jake's reply is drier than a matchstick: "He's more the exfoliating type." Wandering through the film's Manhattan interiors, each a character in its own right — Jake's messy bachelor apartment, Allegra's cozily chic townhouse, the shrink's wood-paneled den — "The Treatment" finds its agreeable pace. We've heard this particular story before, but it holds up to a skilled retelling.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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