Review: The Truth About Charlie

by Jake Sproul

Rating: (out of )

A letter to Jonathan Demme:

Dear Mr. Demme,


After a 4 year sabbatical from directing responsibilities, I ask why your first movie since said break would be such a disappointment?

It honestly doesn’t seem like your work Mr. Demme. I can’t believe you could be capable of making such a lifeless film, and worst of all, casting Mark Wahlberg in the role previously held by Carry Grant! Let us hope that the next film you are involved in, (Adaptation), is much, much better.


Jacob A. Sproul

As you may have guessed, The Truth About Charlie is not the movie that it set out to be. Anything the movie attempted to do, it failed at. It was a disaster in everything from the horrid script to the camera work. And Mark Wahlberg in a beret...?

The Truth About Charlie is a remake of the 60’s classic, Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. The story is complicated, and difficult to explain, but I will try anyhow. In both movies, the center of the story is Charles Lambert. When he inexplicably dies at the beginning of the movie, it comes to light that Charlie had stole 6 million dollars from some very lethal people, and his wife, Regina Lambert, is in grave danger. You may be asking, “Ok...then what...,“ but I am sorry to say that that is about all I understood from the overly complicated plot of The Truth About Charlie.

The Truth About Charlie, plain and simple, makes no damn sense! We never quite know what anyone’s intentions are in this movie. As Regina discovers more and more about characters, we become less and less involved in the movie. At one point, Regina tangos with Joshua, a policewoman, and her two would-be assassins, all supposed enemies, in a race for the 6 million, and all, appearing to be having a gay ‘ol time dancing with each other! Its ridiculous! It just didn’t understand who or what any of these characters were after.

This movie has “boy-who-cried-wolf” syndrome. By the finale, characters have been switched about so many time, I really have no idea if these characters are who they say they are, or if this is just yet another plot confusion. The end does reveal some of the intensions of the various characters, but by that point, who cares? It seems stupid that several countries would be involved in this huge cover-up operation for 6 million dollars. They really should have updated the dollar amount. It seems to me a number in the hundreds of millions would have been far more plausible.

I don’t know if it is possible, but them runs itself around it circles that it really doesn’t get anywhere. The fact that we really don’t know what the characters are REALLY looking for or after, makes the movie boring. If the my screening of The Truth About Charlie hadn’t sold out, I can guarantee you, I would have fallen asleep.

Also not making sense in this plot from hell are its numerous red herrings. A woman claiming to be the mother of Charles, who is hell bent of killing Regina, a mysterious woman dressed in all black, and a package that we never find out what it contains. Maybe Jonathan Demme’s shrink knows why these are in the movie, but certainly not me, and defiantly not the audience.

To sum up the previous rant and feeling on the plot of The Truth About Charlie: While their real personas are revealed in the strangely anti-climactic ending, the fact that we have no idea who they were during the first 90 minutes of the movie makes the film utterly uninteresting and our involvement thus is meager.

Also adding to the sense of disorganization is the film’s camera work. It appears beautiful and vibrant on the outside, but after 30 minutes, it becomes irritating, and I wanted to scream at the screen, “stay still!” Working alongside the camera work, is the Paris locale. At times, this does work to effect to ambiance. However, for some unknown reason, they choice to shoot the film while it was raining! Good God you stupid morons, shoot it in spring!

While the plot may be reminiscent of vomit, the acting is actually quite good. Mark Wahlberg was horribly miscast. He doesn’t fit the profile of Joshua at all, but fortunately for him, he takes what he is given and does do his best. Thandie Newton was an inspired choice for the part previously held by the vivacious Audrey Hepburn. Her screen panache is almost unmatched by any of today’s working actresses, and she emits an innocent vibe that really works for the role. And she’s hot.

The Truth About Charlie really could have been something. Paris, Thandie Newton, and an exciting mystery plot. It sounds weird saying this, but award winning director Jonathan Demme did everything wrong! As I mentioned, he couldn’t even get Paris right! Instead of those three ingredient mixing nicely, what we get is a confusing mess that by the end, everyone wants to leave the theater so bad, we don’t care who is who. The Truth About Charlie takes us down a plot road that has more twists and turns that Lumbar Rd. and worst of all, not one is explained!

© 2002 Jake Sproul

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