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Where the Truth Lies (2005)
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Review Date: October 14, 2005
Director: Atom Egoyan
Writer: Atom Egoyan
Producers: Robert Lantos
Actors:
Kevin Bacon as Lanny
Colin Firth as Vince
Alison Lohman as Karen
Plot:
Two well-respected ‘50s television personalities are caught up in a scandal when a woman is found dead in their bathtub. Fifteen years later, a journalist is asked to write a book on the topic, and meets up with the first of the duo, in exchange for money. During her investigation, the woman also happens to meet up with the other half of the infamous twosome, and the mystery slowly unravels. A “commercial” Atom Egoyan movie ensues?
Critique:
As seen at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival


Egoyan meets Hitchcock meets David Lynch? You bet! Anyone who knows director Atom Egoyan from his mostly high-brow, cerebral, critically acclaimed films, will be weirded out by the auteur’s switch in gears as he tackles a more commercial-minded murder mystery, which despite maintaining all of the elements of most thrillers, including a suspenseful score, femme fatales, twists, turns and red herrings, also includes some of Egoyan’s own trademarks like a sexual nature (very graphic stuff), a delineated time-line and no easy answers. That said, ultimately, it’s the film’s various changes in points of view and explanation that tuned me somewhat out of its groove, which started off as a L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, with impeccable 50s’ to ‘70s set design and costumes, two solid lead actors in Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth, and a basic premise for a good ol’ mystery. Unfortunately, the film is told via a number of voice-overs, the most uninteresting of which comes from Alison Lohman, who I’ve always enjoyed in films before, but who just didn’t work for me in this movie. I thought her character, a news journalist, needed to be an older woman, or at the very least, someone to play her a little less vulnerable. Her character left me quite cold, with very little left to be desired. Thankfully for us, the wacky duo leading the film was engaging, with Bacon/Firth portraying them very well, in both the ‘50s and the later ’70s versions.

But even though the film started off on a high note, it ultimately didn’t seem to garner much energy and left me a little empty as it moved forward. It was almost as if it was missing a second act. The reporter is basically trying to figure out what happened in regards to the ’50s murder, and she doesn’t really seem to be getting anywhere, until the film’s denouement. That said, I was never really bored throughout the movie because it had a brilliant look, it sounded just superb, with a score that would make Bernard Herrman smile, and a directing style that was somewhat reminiscent of David Lynch…heck, even Marty Scorsese in one particularly inspired tracking camera walk through a bar. Oh, and did I mention all of the sexual stuff? That’s right, Bacon is seen doggying a woman, another lady is seen plunging her face into another’s crotch, Firth is seen, well…you’ll have to see the movie to witness all of the fun yourself. That said, I’m still not really sure I understood the entire picture, especially with all of the different points of view twisting things to their own benefit, in the film’s final frames. Overall though, the film was an entertaining watch, and one that I honestly wouldn’t mind revisiting, if only to better piece together all of the parts of the puzzle. Although it’s definitely not as effed up, I’m guessing that fans of MULHOLLAND DRIVE will check this film out and enjoy its intricacies as well. A cool change for Egoyan that doesn’t necessarily work on every level, but one that offers a number of successful elements, including a couple of great turns by the two male leads, an awesome style and score, and enough murder mystery pieces to give most buffs a run for their noggins.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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