The Truth About Charlie (2/10)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


Charade got high marks because of the cast, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Walter Matthau, and its director, the legendary Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain, Two For the Road, among many others).  But I have always felt that the script was not up to the cast and director.

 So here comes The Truth About Charlie with its convoluted plot, trumpeting itself as a remake of Charade.  One thing I did like about Charade was its terrific title song by Henry Mancini.  Not only is ‘Charlie not saved by its music; it’s severely damaged by its cinematography by Tak Fujimoto.  He starts out with the camera encircling the characters, who act as a fulcrum.  This was enchanting in Grand Prix in 1966 where the camera did a 360-degree around Françoise Hardy as she was walking across a square in Monaco.  This unique cinematographical technique captivated the viewer as it continued to encircle this gorgeous woman as a song was being sung to/about her.  But in ‘Charlie it’s derivative, annoying, and might cause someone with an inner ear problem to become dizzy.  It detracts from a film that can’t stand much detraction.

 Regina Lambert (Thandie Newton) returns from a trip to find her husband has been murdered and what seems like all of Paris out to get something from her that they think her husband had, which turns out to be a lot of money.  Two men, Joshua Peters (Mark Wahlberg) and Mr. Bartholomew (Tim Robbins), seem to be helping her.  But both are lying to her (and why the one who turns out to be Cary Grant was lying at all is never adequately explained, except that it’s a plot device without which there wouldn’t have been a plot).  Whom can she trust?  And where’s the money? That’s the movie. 

 Director Jonathan Demme isn’t up to the task of making this involving (but, then, to be perfectly candid, I didn’t think Donen was, either).  The final denouement is so long that it could have been a movie in itself.  I’m surprised several people didn’t drown in the rain it takes so long to get this thing resolved.

 Charade had Grant, Hepburn, Matthau, Mancini, and Donen.  ‘Charlie doesn’t.

 The End