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The Truth About Charlie

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I don't want to know what happened to Johnathan Demme. I used to like him. He made not great, but certainly affecting, films. He seemed to care about the audience, and giving them something to appreciate, to believe in. And suspension of disbelief, a requirement for all film and theatre experiences, was not a problem for Demme's films, as he created a whole world where anything was possible. 'The Truth About Charlie' is quite frankly the worst film he has ever been involved with. The fact that he co-wrote and directed it makes him complicit in every way, and I couldn't help but shake my head the whole time I was in the darkened theatre. The fact that it's reportedly a remake of the Cary Grant starrer 'Charade' is almost a mockery of the original. Thandie Newton, as annoying as humanly possible as a British tramp, excuse me, wife of an art dealer, is shocked to discover that her husband is not the mild-mannered workaholic romantic he portrayed himself as, but yet, well, it's not really clear. He was at one time the member of an ultra secret invasion force for extracting prisoners and hostages, but there is never any explanation for what he does now. Or did, as he's dead in the film's first five minutes, and Newton spends the rest of the movie badly acting, er, trying to figure out why someone wanted him dead, who these new people are that are popping into her life seemingly every day, and where the great sum of money her husband reportedly had ended up. The rest of the support cast—Tim Robbins, Mark Wahlberg, Lisa Gay Hamilton and others Demme's used before to good effect—are lifeless caricatures with horrible lines to recite. The film is void of explanations on many levels. Wahlberg's motivations are in question because of his character, but in the end his motivations are fairly transparent. It's his methods that puzzle us. Robbins puts in the worst performance of his career by far, as a spook who wants to help. Furthermore, the script has holes, strange occurances with no clear meaning, and dialogue that first-year film students could better in their dreams. The last fifteen to twenty minutes are drawn-out pure drivel. It's almost like Demme was trying to make a tribute to his favorite foreign films and directors, and went completely nutbag while filming it. Elements of Truffaut, Fellini, and others mark the film, but at poorly-executed surface level. The real disappointment comes at the very end, though, with the dedication to Ted Demme, Johnathan's nephew, who died of a cocaine-fueled heart attack at a celebrity basketball tournament. As sad as it sounds, even the director of "Who's The Man?" deserved a better tribute than this.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 August 2006 13:10  


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