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The Truth About Charlie
2002 - PG-13 - 104 Mins.
Director: Jonathan Demme
Producer: Jonathan Demme, Peter Saraf, Edward Saxon
Written By: Jonathan Demme, Steve Schmidt
Starring: Thandie Newton, Mark Wahlberg, Tim Robbins, Christine Boisson, Joong-Hoon Park, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Ted Levine
Review by: Carl Langley

I've got an Oscar, what do you have?
The Truth About Charlie is an abysmal effort at remaking the 1963 Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn classic Charade. Jonathan Demme, who indented cinematic minds with his psychotic thriller The Silence of the Lambs and filled them with laughter in Something Wild, may have directed the worst movie of his career.

The names on some of the figures are advertently switched. Cary Grant’s character went by Peter Joshua, whereas Mark Wahlberg’s goes by Joshua Peters. Thandie Newton portrays Regina Lambert, compared to Audrey Hepburn’s Regina Lampert. This came across as odd and confusing. Why would you slightly change the names of the characters for a remake?

The story is basically parallel to Stanley Donen’s film. A newlywed woman, Regina (Thandie Newton from Demme’s previous film Beloved), comes home from vacation to the remains of her desolated apartment and discovers that her husband, Charlie, has been murdered. While being interrogated by the police department, she is informed that her husband worked as a skilled international operator with multiple identities and has hidden a large sum of cash. The rest of the movie consists of Regina being tracked by various people, including a trio of ex-militia who worked with Charlie and a government official (Tim Robbins), who believe she possess the fortune that belongs to them. Soon she stumbles again into Joshua Peters (Mark Wahlberg), the candid, sensitive gentleman she met on her vacation. Irrationally, she puts her faith in Joshua and they being their mockery of a relationship that ignites the dullest of flames.

Regina’s reaction to the whole scenario is so farfetched to how any other woman would respond. She confides in her enemies at times, which confuses the viewer and one might ask, “Does this gal know what she is doing?” Her husband has been murdered, people are hunting her down, she is a suspect among the police and a crazed woman, and all she makes allowance for is her relationship with Joshua.

Mark Wahlberg filling Cary Grant’s shoes was an unfortunate decision. Mark Wahlberg looks like a kid trapped inside a corn maze, lost and unable to find his way out. Wahlberg has yet to turn in a decent performance since Boogie Nights made him an instant star. Tim Robbins’ French accent is nothing short of misery, only creating indignation every scene he is in. Thandie Newton is the only adequate beauty in The Truth About Charlie. Even though her character acts in a bizarre, thick-witted manner, her fluent accent and graceful looks advert the attention from her frequent lulls.

Demme tries to redeem us with fast-paced shots and close-ups, which turn out to be an abominating headache. Tak Fujimoto (2002’s Signs) took a step backwards with his usual flawless work. With Fujimoto’s unsettling camerawork and Demme’s direction, The Truth About Charlie had no chance at passing the amateur level.

What gave Charade its magical touch was the light comedy that rolled through agilely to keep the viewer interested. The Truth About Charlie offers no sympathy, dulling us with poor suspense and a relationship that we cannot connect to. In the end, The Truth About Charlie chalks another one up for the lame remakes of Hollywood classics that will soon be forgotten. To quote Roger Ebert, I hated, hated, hated this movie.
Movie Guru Rating
A train wreck.  So bad some may find it unintentionally entertaining.
  1 out of 5 stars

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