*** Official "THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Oct 23, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "The Truth About Charlie". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
  2. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    Let me preface this short review by saying I haven't seen "Charade" which is the inspiration behind the remake effort that is "The Truth About Charlie".

    I'm not that big a fan of either of the 2 main leads, Mark Wahlberg or Thandie Newton, but Jonathan Demme's name as director did get me into the movie theater to check out this film.

    My 2 word review: Strained Plausibility.

    I can't decide if Demme choose to go for sprinkling comedic bits all throughout the film because he realized that the main characters aren't all that interesting to begin with. Some of irony in the dialog is funny, but overall, not a very satisfying film in retrospect. For the life of me, I couldn't find Thandie's character, Regina, acting in a plausible fashion after she returns home to find out that her husband, Charlie, has been murdered. From that point, it's a game of who's going to get to whatever Charlie was trying to hide from them. The screenplay tries to be very convoluted, at the expense of the characters, and even suspending my disbelief more than once on plot points put me in into auto-pilot mode, which meant I disengaged in caring about the characters and their plight, and moved into "well, let's just find out 'the truth about Charlie'" mode no matter how silly the characters behave for the rest of the film.

    I give it 2 stars, or a grade of C.
  3. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
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    I wish I could review this movie without mentioning C------, or A----- H------, or C--- G----, or even W----- M------. I wish I could give it a fair shake just based on what it is...
    But I can't. I've seen the Stanley Donen movie this one was based on, love it, consider it a classic, and you can have my Criterion DVD when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. Which is why I'm surprised - but delighted - to say that I love The Truth About Charlie as well. Heck, I'm enamoured enough to regret missing Shoot The Piano Player when it played the Brattle a few months ago.
    The Truth About Charlie is fun. It's set in an exuberantly multicultural Paris, filled with charming, quirky characters, with a story that perfectly walks the line between stakes high enough to generate real suspense but a tone light enough for romantic banter. The plot is carried over nearly point-for-point from the original, with the necessary tweaks for things like cell phones (am I the only one who keeps catching myself saying things like "why don't they just call his cell?" before I catch myself when watching movies >10 years old?).
    Thandie Newton is not just a good actress, she's a legitimate movie star. She's got that difficult-to-quantify charisma thing, and has good looks that make her appear both regal and accessible. She gives Regina a charming clumsy streak and a sharp mind, which tips the audience off early that this will be a mystery to solve, rather than a series of obstacles to get past.
    Tim Robbins... Well, how much must Tim Robbins hate getting all these establishment-authority roles at this stage of his career? He has fun with it, though - his bearing suggests he's not comfortable in any other posture than "standing at attention", he speaks in a clipped, terse manner that almost becomes robotic as the movie goes on. You know, early on, that he's hiding something, but he's the type of guy whose entire job is to hide things.
    I'm not as sure about Mark Wahlberg - I think he's giving a good performance, but of the main characters, his is the most different from his predecessor, and it's tough, right now, for me to give an opinion on it that doesn't have some amount of "he's not Cary Grant!" in it.
    Johnathan Demme is clearly having fun. A lot of remakes will make the mistake of pretending they're not remakes, but The Truth About Charlie happily wears its influences on its sleeve - aside from Charade and Shoot The Piano Player, you'll see bits of The Third Man and others. It's a movie that knows about movies, and assumes the audience knows a thing or two about movies. Demme plays with repeating camera shots, sets up action sequences so that the audience knows the geography well enough to know what a character's options are.
    I'll admit, though - it was the ending that sealed the deal. I was initially a little disappointed that something Charade saved for the last scene appeared a bit earlier in this version - but what Demme does while the credits roll is delightful in its own playful manner. It's chock full of cinematic artifice, but it's good artifice, the type that reminds you how movies can be fun even if every thread doesn't quite tie together.

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