Review Date: October 23, 2002
Director: Jonathan Demme
Writer: Jonathan Demme, Steve Schmidt, Peter Stone, Jessica Bendinger
Producers: Jonathan Demme, Peter Saraf, Edward Saxon
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.