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The Truth About Charlie Review

By Shawn McKenzie 10/26/2002

Stanley Donen’s Charade has long been considered the greatest Alfred Hitchcock film not involving Hitchcock whatsoever. The reason for that is because of the many people who have tried to cop Hitchcock’s style over the years, Charade did the best job of it. Now Jonathan Demme has come out with his remake of Charade called The Truth About Charlie. I really liked the original, but I’m a bit disappointed that the man who brought us The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia now has this remake that doesn’t quite live up to it.

The Truth About Charlie is about Regina Lambert, (Thandie Newton), a British woman living in Paris who's ready to divorce her husband, Charles (Stephen Dillane), after just four months of marriage. That is mainly because he isn’t exactly faithful to her. She is a little late to spring the news on him though, because when she comes back from her vacation, she finds out that he liquidated their belongings and was killed in the process. Local police Commandant Jeanne Dominique (Christine Boisson) and her assistant, Lieutenant Dessalines (Simon Abkarian), then interview her not long after the murder. Regina learns that Charles was not only unfaithful, but had many passports and aliases. She tells her tales of sorrow to an American named Joshua Peters (Mark Wahlberg), a man whom she first met on vacation and then again at the airport while coming home. He helps her get set up in a nearby hotel where she is given a message to meet Mr. Bartholomew (Tim Robbins), an American official with the Office of Defense Cooperation. He tells her that Charles was involved in covert military operations and that $6 million related to that is now gone. He also give her the heads up about three other operatives who will come looking for the money, because they all think she has it, or at least knows where it is. They are named Il-Sang Lee (Joong-Hoon Park), Emil Zadapec (Ted Levine), and Lola Jansco (Lisa Gay Hamilton.) As time goes on and more people involved begin to be mysteriously murdered, Regina finds it hard to figure out whom exactly to trust, especially since the people she trusts the most keep changing their names repeatedly.

I know this movie is all about twists and turns, but I think Demme took that a little too literally. The movie plays like a roller coaster visually. Most of it was shot with a hand-held camera, and it can make you a little sick if you have a queasy stomach. I think he meant to do it that way to display the quick pace of events occurring, but it didn’t jibe well with me.

In a remake I’m not too hip on the actors trying to do an imitation of the original actors’ performances. Newton and Robbins seemed to be doing a carbon copy of Audrey Hepburn and Walter Matthau respectively. Wahlberg fortunately wasn’t doing Cary Grant, but I think any actor who tried to do Cary Grant today would look a little goofy. Grant is the only man who can do Grant. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too impressed with the performance Wahlberg did give. He and Newton have zero chemistry.

In some aspects, the movie is a fun one (with all the deception and murdering going on, it keeps its sense of humor throughout the film), but I highly recommend renting Charade before going to see The Truth About Charlie. When you do go to see it, don’t go on a full stomach!


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