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The Truth About Charlie Movie Review

  • Holly McClure Movie Reviewer
  • 2002 10 Oct
  • COMMENTS
<i>The Truth About Charlie</i> Movie Review

Genre:  Mystery, Thriller

Rating:  PG-13 (for some violence and sexual content/nudity)

Release Date:  October 25, 2002

Actors:  Mark Wahlberg, Thandie Newton, Tim Robbins, Christine Boison, Jim Brooks, Stephen Dillane, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Ted Levine, Joonh-Hoon Park

Director:  Jonathan Demme

Special Notes:  Peter Joshua (screenwriter) is pleased to share the name of a prominent male character of the 1963 film, Charade.  Demme's films have been nominated for 20 Academy Awards.  The Silence of the Lambs received five nominations in 1991.  His films have won screenplay Oscars and two of the Best Actor awards of the 1990s went to Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991) and Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, 1993).  Many of you may recognize Ted Levine as the creepy guy from Demme's The Silence of the Lambs and Newton from another movie he directed, Beloved.

Plot:  Regina Lambert (Newton) is an unhappy newlywed of only a few months but already is contemplating a divorce from her husband Charlie.  Before she returns home from a vacation, she meets a handsome stranger, Joshua Peters (Wahlberg), who coincidentally sees her at the airport and gives her a ride home when Charlie doesn't show.  When Regina arrives home she discovers her house emptied and her husband murdered.  As Commandant Dominique (Christine Boisson) begins an investigation, Regina discovers that Charlie isn't really the man he claimed to be and his involvement in a conspiracy plot has a group of people (Joong-Hoon Park, Ted Levine, Lisa Gay) after him.  When an embassy official (Tim Robbins) approaches Reggie and warns her that her life is in danger, she turns to the always available Joshua for comfort but eventually he too comes under her suspicion.  With everyone and everything around her seemingly a lie, Regina realizes she has to discover the truth for herself.

Good:  Based on the 1963 Stanley Donen film Charade, director Jonathan Demme has remade one of his all-time favorite flicks but this version is radically different from the original with dramatically reshaped relationships and personalities of the lead characters.  This time, the setting and original storyline go in an entirely new direction and while a younger generation may appreciate the playful escapist style and global look of the cast, fans of the original will be extremely disappointed.  The only thing I thought was clever about this movie was a brief outside scene where you could hear the original tune from Charade being played in the background.

Bad:  The plot is still set in Paris, but instead of the warm Parisian charm and elegance of the original, Demme's Paris is cold, rainy, depressing and far from the romantic "City of Lights".  Where the original had a classy "high style" look, this one is integrated with dead-beat characters or people you wouldn't want to know.  I abhor when directors try to be different by using that "shaky camera" style all the way through a movie because it ends up being obnoxious and distracting and in truth, removes the audience from being intimate with the characters.  And I think that's the feeling I walked away with--I didn't care about these characters or what happened to any of them and with a plot like this one, you need to care.  When you're making a remake of anything, there will undoubtedly be comparisons made to the original.  Although Demme is obviously trying to make a "different" version, any fan of the original (or Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn) will obviously compare the two.  So I'll be blunt--Wahlberg doesn't even come close to the charm and sophistication of Grant and aside from an English accent, Newton is as far from the classy innocence and beauty of Hepburn as you could possibly get.  I'm a fan of Wahlberg and although he did a decent job of acting, I felt he was miscast and awkward in this role.  I can truthfully say I hated the movie Beloved (remember Oprah's pet project?) and the character Newton played in that movie, so I'm probably a bit biased to begin with.  But in this role she lacked having any chemistry with Wahlberg and by no means is enough of a lead to carry the movie.  And don't even get me started on Robbins' almost comical performance, it was part Walter Matthau (who was in the original) and part robot.  This version is definitely made for adults with a couple of implied sexual situations (people shown in bed together), some nudity (a woman is shown in only her brief panties with upper nudity, Newton is shown nude in the shower behind blurred glass,) and some violence (a woman is hit by a car, a man is beaten).

Bottom Line:  The truth about this movie is that it is a charade.  It's marginally entertaining and can't even be compared to the classic Charade.  Remind yourselves of what great dialogue, a well-written script, and superb acting used to look like and rent the original.