The Truth About Charlie
Reviewed by Dave Luttig
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Thandie Newton, Tim Robbins
The Truth About Charlie? It rocks.
Rarely do I go for foreign films or remakes, which is what The Truth About Charlie is. Don't be fooled by the largely American cast and the great director Jonathan Demme, he of The Silence of the Lambs fame. This IS a foreign movie. It was filmed in Paris. Demme's crew is French. The cinematography, score, and songs are very Euro. There aren't any subtitles but you can even adjust that on your DVD player.
It's based on the 1963 movie, Charade, starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. I started to watch some of it (you will be able, too, if you get the DVD; it's included on the flip side). Both are murder/mysteries. In each, everyone is asking who killed Charlie? Charlie (Stephen Dillane) makes his only real-time appearance at the beginning of the movie, when he is murdered aboard a train after having a brief "rendezvous" with someone other than his wife (Charade opens with Charlie being tossed off the moving train). At the same time, the real Mrs. Charlie, Regina Lambert, played with comic naivety by Thandie Newton (Mission: Impossible II, Beloved), is vacationing with a friend, confiding to her that her marriage is over. She's merely a trophy to her husband, an extremely successful international art dealer (aren't all Frenchman in the movies?) She meets Mark Wahlberg's Joshua Peters while on the beach (in Charade it's a ski resort) and, a brief flirt later, Peters is on his way, only to hook up with her once again after their train arrives back in Paris. He shares a cab ride with her to her flat and bids adieu, leaving our heroine to discover that her husband and furniture are nowhere to be found.
Turns out Charlie is dead and the French detective overseeing the case, Commandant Dominique (French actress Christine Boisson) suspects the lovely young Mrs. Lambert, who is suddenly involved with Peters. The Commandant is obviously not forthcoming on what she knows, adding to the developing intrigue. Enter Tim Robbins, a U.S. government agent. He tells her that Charlie stole $6 million dollars from several dangerous individuals and that they're going to come after her to claim their money. These three hoods, played by Joong-Hoon Park, Lisa Gay Hamilton, and Ted Levine (Demme's villain from The Silence of the Lambs), inform her that they only want the money, which she insists she has no idea as to what they're talking about. What they are able to do, however, is add to the mystery by telling her that Peters isn't who he seems to be, either. Poor Regina. Deceptions abound and she doesn't know who to trust, whom to believe.
The film is an absolute delight despite a few bumps (tempo shifts are uneven in the more serious scenes). The score is superb, however, keeping the mood mischievous throughout. Newton plays the na´ve young babe to a tee, ready to burst into tears or panic at the drop of a hat. Cast members are equally on top of their game, and with Demme at the helm, giving his French crew carte blanche in stylistic Euro shooting, it adds up to a great ride as you try to figure out the whodunit in the whodunit.
The Truth About Charlie? Get a bottle of wine, some cheese, and invite your friends over for an evening at the arts.
review by Dave Luttig 2003
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