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Where the Truth Lies (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) and Vince Collins (Colin Firth) are like Rowan and Martin, a popular comic duo, although it’s the ‘50’s, not the ‘60’s when Rowan and Martin reigned. Alas, a young woman, Maureen (Rachel Blanchard) is found dead in their hotel suite, resulting in the breakup of their partnership. Fifteen years later a fledgling journalist, Karen O’Connor (Alison Lohman) wants to write a book about Vince and resurrects the mystery surrounding their breakup and Maureen’s death.

This doesn’t have an NC-17 rating for nothing. There is a lot of nudity and semi-graphic sexual acts. Innuendo is apparently beyond director Atom Egoyan’s talent.

At 108 minutes, the film is far too long, drags in parts, and jumps in and out of time frames so often one gets dizzy. Worse, it doesn’t do a very good job of recreating the eras of the late ‘50’s and early ‘70’s, which are the two covered. Oh, the clothes and the cars are OK, but the ambience of the eras is completely missed. It’s like we’re watching something take place in those two eras from the safety of the 21st Century.

Also missing is the Hitchcockian feeling of something sinister going on. Nothing to come close to rivaling Joel McCrea approaching the old windmill in “Foreign Correspondent” (1940), which caused your skin to crawl with the fear of impending doom. Egoyan doesn’t know how to emulate Hitch’s ability to create an ambience of terror through simple scene-setting, amplifying normal sounds which can become sinister in themselves when there is no background music. Karen is never felt to be in danger, even though she puts herself in vulnerable situations. The people we suspect as being evil don’t project a sense of danger. The film is simply devoid of a feeling of fear.

The producers are trying to entice customers by a poster showing Bacon and Firth looking at a girl who has her naked back to us. She turns around in the movie so that nothing is left to our imagination. Unfortunately, the abundant nudity doesn’t help. Too bad that good acting by Bacon, Firth and Lohman are diminished by Egoyan’s uninspired directing.

October 7, 2005