“Silence of the Lambs” director Jonathan Demme has proven he knows how to handle crime and suspense in cinema, which raises expectations high for his newest thriller, “The Truth About Charlie.”
Unfortunately, the results are disappointing. “The Truth About Charlie” is a remake of the beloved mystery-romance-thriller “Charade,” which benefitted greatly from the charm and chemistry between stars Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.
Hepburn and Grant’s ill-fated counterparts in this remake are Thandie Newton and Mark Wahlberg, who have about as much chemistry as two wet towels.
This is frustrating, as the two stars individually are strong actors and the premise of the film begins with quite a bit of intrigue.
Regina Lambert ? Newton ? returns from a Caribbean vacation to find her Paris flat empty, her furniture missing and her husband dead.
Various police authorities ? wonderfully played by Christine Boisson and Tim Robbins ? try to guide Regina towards the truth about her husband Charlie, his secret past and six million dollars worth of stolen diamonds.
In addition, a handsome and mysterious stranger ? Wahlberg ? is always turning up to aid and romance Regina, while three shady military minions from Charlie’s past (Lisa Gay Hamilton, Ted Levine and Joong-Hoon Park) are in hot pursuit of the stolen jewels.
Although “The Truth About Charlie” has the plot ingredients and potential to be as clever as the average Hitchcock thriller, the execution of the film is muddled by confusing, shaky camera work and dubious plot developments.
The characters sometimes seem to be out of place, never fully connecting to each other ? for example, the romance between Wahlberg’s and Newton’s characters is tepid, with each one seeming to be in love with somebody else from another movie.
Director Demme also strives to overachieve by trying to make this film a comedy, as well as a mystery, romance and a thriller.
For the most part, it does not work at all.
This film, while a disappointment, still has a pocketful of redeeming moments. One highlight was an amusing tango scene set to the tune of “Dancing with Deception,” in which all the characters take turns dancing with each other while furiously trying to further their respective agendas.
The film’s sweetest points occur whenever French crooner Charles Aznavour appears onscreen, summoned magically by the playing of his CD. Whether Aznavour’s serenading the characters is subliminal product placement or genuine cinematic magic, the viewer will not care.
And finally, if you are a “Silence of the Lambs” fan ? as many are ? you will perk up at the sound of Ted Levine’s voice and his screen presence.
Levine has played the loony character of Buffalo Bill in “Silence of the Lambs” and his character Emil Zarapec in “The Truth About Charlie” is Buffalo Bill all over again ? with the same distinctive facial tics and quirks.
All in all, “The Truth About Charlie” will leave you feeling dissatisfied throughout the film’s 100 minutes and wondering why you didn’t just rent the better paced and better acted classic, “Charade.”
Fong can be reached at email@example.com.