TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE
Regina Lambert (Thandie Newton) returns to Paris from a holiday planning to end her short marriage to Charles Lambert (Stephen Dillane). But she finds that Charles has been murdered, and their apartment completely emptied. Regina turns to Joshua Peters (Mark Wahlberg) whom she met on holidays for help. She is bewildered by Charles’ frightening former associates Il-Sang Lee (Joong-Hoon Park), Emil Zadapec (Ted Levine), and Lola Jansco (Lisa Gay Hamilton), who are in pursuit of lots of money Charles was supposed to have hidden. American embassy official Mr Bartholomew (Tim Robbins) is also putting pressure on her, as is the police chief Commandant Dominique (Christine Boisson), informing her that she is the only person who could know the whereabouts of the hiding millions.
Review by Louise Keller:
Some films should never be remade, and the classic 1963 romantic thriller Charade is one of them. How could anyone even attempt to match the charismatic teaming of the exquisite Audrey Hepburn and the debonair Cary Grant, as they head a cast that includes Walter Matthau, James Coburn and George Kennedy? As for the script that so beautifully balances the thriller elements with comedy and romance, it was a perfect fit with the setting and its time. Add Henry Mancini’s haunting theme (as memorable as A Man And A Woman and The Thomas Crown Affair), and you have a timeless tale that you can watch again and again. In The Truth About Charlie, the character names haven’t changed, nor has the Paris setting or the main story elements. But the mood is all wrong, and the result is a mish-mash of flawed direction, irritating hand-held camera work and bad casting. Mark Wahlberg is woefully miscast as Joshua Peters - the Cary Grant character – whose personality needs nuance and style. There’s absolutely nothing suave or elegant about Wahlberg, who shines in roles like those in Boogie Nights and Planet of the Apes. In one scene here, when Wahlberg shows off his pecs as he changes his clothes, it feels as though he is in the wrong movie. The chemistry between Wahlberg and Thandie Newton is zilch, and Newton is certainly no Audrey Hepburn. As for Tim Robbins, playing the Walter Matthau role… it sounds as though Robbins is doing a Matthau impersonation, and it just doesn’t work. The sorry part is that it seems as though the filmmakers worked hard to come up with some good ideas that never pay off – like the appearance of singer Charles Aznavour in two fantasy segments and a cameo by filmmaker Agnès Varda. The jerky camera movements (no doubt to make the film edgy) are irritating – nauseating at times. Even the Paris backdrop fails to ignite and the clumsy use of French at inopportune times is heavy handed. (Wahlberg’s French – and his character supposedly lives in Paris – wouldn’t make the grade in primary school). Lovers of Charade will cringe when Newton delivers THAT line ‘You know what’s wrong with you Mr Peters? … Absolutely nothing!’ But even if you have never seen the original, there’s little to recommend this remake. The plot is confusing, the characters unappealing and the final showdown in the pouring rain, is a wet letdown. I’m off to the video store to hire Stanley Donan’s original.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If blood sports were legal, I’d shoot this film. Not because it’s just bad of itself, but because I’ve seen how this story can - or could - be made. And was, 40 years ago. The better the original, the less reason to remake it. The only brownie point earned here (and perhaps only because I’m an Aznavour fan) is a bravado attempt at risky business with cinematic style, such as bringing Charles Aznavour into the frame singing live while his CD is playing in a romantic scene - and again as a finale. But the latter really douses the film’s reality with a wink at the camera - and us in the cinema. This alone shows disastrous
misjudgement. But I do like some of it; the opening scenes, the rain sodden closing scenes (real masochistic filmmaking at work here) and the Parisian hotel setting. It’s strange to find this film so unsatisfying, considering I am a fan of its stars and its director. Demme is a talented filmmaker, but his judgement here deserted him. It happens.
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TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE (M)
CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Thandie Newton, Tim Robbins, Joong-Hoon Park, Ted Levine, Cassius Kumar Wilkinson, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Christine Boisson, Stephen Dillane, Charles Aznavour, Agnès Varda
PRODUCER: Jonathan Demme, Peter Saraf, Edward Saxon
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme
SCRIPT: Jonathan Demme, Steve Schmidt, Peter Joshua, Jessica Bendinger (Charade script by Peter Stone)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tak Fujimoto
EDITOR: Carol Littleton, Suzanne Spangler
MUSIC: Anna Karina, Rachel Portman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 13, 2003