The Truth About Charlie (2002)
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Review Date: October 23, 2002
Director: Jonathan Demme
Writer: Jonathan Demme, Steve Schmidt, Peter Stone, Jessica Bendinger
Producers: Jonathan Demme, Peter Saraf, Edward Saxon
Thandie Newton
Mark Wahlberg
Tim Robbins
A very cute woman with vivacious cans living in Paris with her husband comes home one day to find everything missing, including her beloved. After discovering that he was murdered and that she might unknowingly have millions of his dollars on her, she also gains a few new admirers who all seem to want to "help" her out. Who's telling the truth? Who's lying? Who gives a shit? Find out below.
First, I'll get the typical film critic's "clever" play on the title out of the way by saying that the truth about this movie is that...it sucks! Now that I got that out of the way, allow me to break down the three points which I allotted to this debacle: one point goes to the absolute cuteness that is Thandie Newton and her superlative figure, another point goes to Mark Wahlberg's upper torso, which is amusingly displayed for about three seconds as he changes shirts during one opportune sequence and a final mark to the wonderful city of Paris, France, which is always gorgeous no matter how crappy the film. Unfortunately for this movie, that's about it for the "good" stuff. As for the bad...well, allow me to count thee ways. First up and probably most importantly, is the casting, or should I say, major miscasting of Mark Wahlberg as the lead male. I've always considered this dude to be a decent actor, in fact, I thought he showed great promise in BOOGIE NIGHTS, but the character in this movie is just not him! He doesn't "feel" right for the character (too young), he doesn't act right as the character (always looks confused), he doesn't generate any chemistry whatsoever with Newton (I'm talking zilch!) and he actually reminded me of his own doppelganger from BOOGIE NIGHTS, Brock Landers, in a couple of scenes. Not good! The story is second on my list of "things that sucked about this flick" with a decent enough premise leading to a whole bunch of twists, turns, red herrings, blue herrings, lies, half-truths and pretty much anything that you can find under your pile of old screenplays, without ever really involving the audience in any of it. How interested am I supposed to be in a bunch of greedy people who I know very little about and who do nothing but lie?

By the half hour mark, I was about as confused as the folks charging up the aisle on their way out of the theater, and the plot only thickened from there. I also didn't give half a shit about any of the characters. Even Newton, who could not have been any more adorable in her role (loved it when she was drunk...call me!), managed to perplex with one dumbass move after another, to the point that I actually turned to the person next to me and said "Either this babe is the most na´ve woman on the face of this planet or she's just a total boob!" Not surprisingly, there was no one sitting next to me, but my point was still a valid one...I think (if a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it...). This lady gets dicked around by pretty much everyone in the film but still manages to trust them all ad infinitum. Whatever. The directing is also quite amateurish, and even though Jonathan Demme demonstrates his class by dedicating the film to his late nephew/director Ted Demme, he cannot seem to make much sense of the narrative and utilizes enough style to make Guy Ritchie say "Wow, that's a lot of style!", but with very little meaning to any of it. His "shakey cam" method in particular, gave me a throbbing headache, and the obvious use of a digital camera in certain sequences "took me out" of the movie even further.

In the end, the film is just a plain ol' mess, with a conclusion that's about as dumb and unbelievable as most of what came before it, and a revelation about Wahlberg's character that's about as farfetched as my big ass! The film's final minutes, much like Madonna's recent chef-d'oeuvre SWEPT AWAY, was accompanied by audible laughter by the few victims who remained in the audience (especially when one of the characters confessed their "love" for another-nobody bought it!!) and led to an even stranger "fantasy" sequence, that almost seemed to indicate that even the filmmakers realized that they had a dog on their hands and decided to fluff it up for their own amusement. All in all, the film bored me many times, confused me all over, angered me upon the realization that I couldn't walk out because I had to sit through the whole thing for my gig as a "critic" and elated me when its end credits finally rolled (although they even extended that bit with a ridiculous "homage" to Hannibal from Demme's own SILENCE OF THE LAMBS...please!!!). I did like that Aznavour tune though...c'etait de la bonne merde!! By the way, I always flinch whenever I see the names of more than 3 people as screenwriters and in this case, I guess 4 was the magic number...to suck!! Skip it and give your mom a phone call to let her know that you love her...and that you didn't have to sit through this junk.

PS: I haven't seen the classic 1963 film on which this one is based entitled CHARADE, but my brother, who has a disconcerting obsession with Audrey Hepburn, loved it. After seeing this remake with me, I asked him what he thought of the film. "I think I'm gonna be sick" is all the poor chap could muster as he beelined it to the nearest rest-stop. I believe that's a "thumbs down", Alex.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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