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The Truth About Charlie (PG-13)
Universal Pictures
Official Site
Director: Jonathan Demme
Producers: Jonathan Demme, Ed Saxon, Saraf, Ilona Herzberg, Neda Armian, Mishka Cheyko
Written by: Jonathan Demme, Steve Schmidt, Peter Joshua, Jessica Bendinger
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Thandie Newton, Tim Robbins, Joong-Hoon Park, Ted Levine, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Christine Boisson, Stephen Dillane

Rating: out of 5


So what is the truth about Charlie? Going in, I had no idea. Which is the best way to see this film (or any film), for sure. See an intriguing trailer on TV or at the theater and then abstain from any further exposure to the plot or production.

Whether you know much about it or not, The Truth About Charlie is watch-worthy. The plot thickens but doesn’t get too complex. Don’t worry, I won’t give away anything too vital as per my rant in the first paragraph. Basically, Regina Lambert (Newton) meets the charming Joshua Peters (Wahlberg) while vacationing in the Caribbean. We then jump to the demise of the enigmatic Charlie (Dillane), but of course don’t see whodunit. Upon her return to Paris, we find out that Regina is the late Charles’s wife, and she finds out that her flat and her bank account have been emptied and her husband murdered. “Coincidentally,” Joshua runs into Regina in Paris and is all too ready to offer his helping hands. Strong secondary characters round out the cast: a trio of Charlie’s cohorts searching for a load of cash they think Regina has (Park, Levine, Hamilton), a tough Parisian female investigator (Boisson), a straight-laced American “stars and bars company man” with a bad Yankee accent (Robbins). 

Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Beloved) scores with this fast-paced, edgy remake based on Peter Stone's motion picture, Charade. After a decade of great, classically structured films, he wanted to return to the more creative style of his earlier work (Something Wild, Married To The Mob). And he does, delivering an innovative script structure, damn fine cinematography, and a hip soundtrack featuring world music from Angelique Kidjo, Robyn Hitchcock, Sparklehorse, and Manu Chao.

Thandie Newton (Beloved, Mission Impossible 2) shines from start to finish. The stunningly gorgeous actress is altogether likable, and she has surprisingly good comedic timing. In his shifty role (his character’s identity changes multiple times), Mark Wahlberg (Planet Of The Apes, Boogie Nights) really gets under our skin, in that good way.

The Truth is it’s a cool, funny, engaging, highly re-watchable movie. The only weakness is a moderate lack of suspense. Regina is supposed to be protecting herself from ever-increasing danger. Oftentimes, though, the film’s humor overshadows its thrilling aspect. Even the bad guys are charismatic and just plain friendly (which is okay by me). I also had to deduct a half-star because you won’t walk away feeling enlightened or changed. Just entertained. Hey, it could be worse.

—Michelle Fajkus

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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