The Truth About Charlie Reviews
Whalberg and Robbins at times see they are in a totally different movie. They are fine at times, but are hamming it up in full cheese modes in other scenes.
It's flashy like the Bourne films, and keeps the interest, but it never really goes anywhere, and after the rain showdown the film is awful.
The lead here is Thandie Newton, playing Regina Lambert, even though she's not given top billing. She's a woman who has recently come back to Paris after a vacation, only to find her apartment empty, the police standing inside, and her husband dead. She's not really a suspect, although Commandant Dominique (Christine Boisson) interrogates her anyway. She's told that her husband lived a double life, and that is profession was not that of an art dealer. He lost approximately $6 million, and other people are now looking for it. Find the money, find the killer, the presumption is.
Meanwhile, Regina is starting to become friends with Joshua (Mark Wahlberg), whom she met on vacation and then once again in Paris. He is a friendly man, although maybe a little bit too friendly. And then there's an American agent (Tim Robbins), who tells her to trust nobody. He details the people her late husband lost money to, the people we should watch out for, and then tells her to be careful of Joshua, too, because that adds tension, I suppose.
So, we've got all of these sides vying for Regina's attention, and everyone has an ulterior motive, or sometimes motives. You'll be unsurprised to learn that pretty much nobody tells the truth until the very end, and that even after it's all wrapped up, it still won't make a lick of sense. These people play cards that they shouldn't know ("I counter your reveal with one of my own"), and the film becomes silly way too early on for it to be taken seriously.
I'm not sure how this happened, especially because the director, Jonathan Demme, best known for The Silence of the Lambs, definitely knows how to create tension. It's as if he decided to play it safe for fear of changing too much from the original and, as a result, this is a watered-down movie that gives you absolutely no reason to watch it. It's not terribly bad, and there are some interesting things at play here -- in particular, the unusual cinematography -- but on the whole it's just not very interesting and is lesser in every way.
Charade had two of the greatest actors to ever live in Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. The Truth About Charlie isn't quite so lucky. I like Mark Wahlberg, but he shows absolutely nothing in this role except for unabashed enthusiasm and positivity. That's playing against type, which is a good thing, but Wahlberg isn't good at it, and shows a lack of depth in this role. Comparing the role to Grant's isn't even fair, or close.
On the other hand, we have Thandie Newton, who might not be Audrey Hepburn, but she acts circles around Wahlberg in this movie. She actually shows range and emotion and all of those things that tell us a little something about her character and the tragic situation that she's going through. It's fun to watch her, and if her character's mental state was actually examined, we might have ourselves a movie worth watching. However, the only way we delve into that is through Newton's acting; it's all up to her to bring that to our attention, as the film is more interested in its convoluted plot and terrible love interest storyline between Newton and Wahlberg's characters.
There's supposed to be some sort of tension between the two characters. There's an attempt at that early on, but it soon declines into just another love story, even once some of Joshua's intentions and aliases are revealed. Even when we first learn that he's working with the people trying to take the money (don't worry, that's not a spoiler; he'll change again a few times after), the relationship dynamic doesn't even change. Regina is cautious for quite literally one scene before unconditionally accepting him once again.
That, combined with a lack of thrills throughout, is one of the main reasons that The Truth About Charlie is a failure. Nobody ever seems to be in any danger throughout the film -- even the bad guys aren't terribly threatening; they frequently converse quite pleasantly with Regina, as they just want the money, which she doesn't even desire -- and it's all just one big, anticlimactic mess.
Charade didn't need to be remade. I feel that very strongly, especially after seeing The Truth About Charlie. The cast is weaker, the story feels more convoluted -- whether it is or not is up for debate -- and there's absolutely nothing thrilling about it. It's a remake without a purpose, and since you can see the original, the better version, for free, you're much better off doing that. It's a story of twists and turns but The Truth About Charlie would be better off if it didn't exist.