Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Thandie Newton, Tim Robbins, Stephen Dillane, Ted Levine
Director: Jonathan Demme
Some films are crying out to be remade whilst others should be left exactly as they are, locked in the time that their characters and ideas first hit the can. THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE is a remake of Stanley Donen’s 1963 romantic thriller CHARADE, with Thandie Newton playing the Audrey Hepburn role and Mark Wahlberg standing in for the suave Cary Grant.
The story finds Regina Lambert (Thandie Newton) alone in Paris, France after her husband’s murder amidst a sea of characters all of which have underlying motives and all of which have secrets and tell lies. She discovers her husband was not who she thought he was and in total confusion doesn’t know who to trust, the CIA man who tries to enlist her services, the police inspector who might suspect her or may be Joshua Peters (Mark Wahlberg) the man who suddenly appears in her life to whom she is attracted but is also not what he seems – or is he?
While the plot may sound intriguing CHARADE may be a film that should have stayed in its original form although if THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE had have been handled correctly and with a different leading lady it could have been a worthy remake.
Unfortunately it isn’t. Director Jonathan Demme surprisingly trips up again and again. He often uses a shaky hand held camera perhaps to try to illustrate Thandie’s confusion but the technique simply irritates and irritates. Thandie Newton’s character, the central role in the film, tries to copy the 1960’s Audrey Hepburn character by showing an unbelievable amount of naivety and frankly a terrible interpretation of the role. Her only good scenes came when she (verbally) loses her temper and shows a stronger character showing that she can act if she wants to.
Mark Wahlberg is the only one that keeps the film on the ground but even his natural screen presence, something he shares with his character’s predecessor Cary Grant although in a totally different way, can’t save this movie. Even the extremely photogenic city of Paris is made no real use of totally wasting its character – this could almost be any city anywhere.
The truth is that THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE is simply a poor charade of CHARADE, a movie which is still waiting to be remade and properly updated.