Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Movie Review: "Where the Truth Lies"
Starring Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman, Rachel Blanchard, David Hayman, Maury Chaykin
Directed by Atom Egoyan
Official Web site
It's clear when stars Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth take the stage looking snazzy in their tuxes, while performing music and comedy, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis should spring to mind. Indeed, this fictional nightclub act has its suave and sophisticated straight man, Vince Collins (Firth) and excitable, wilder funny man, Lenny Morris (Bacon). In 1957, their career is red hot and luxuries are laid at their feet, be it legal or not.
"Where the Truth Lies" certainly doesn't paint the duo as angels, as each have their problems. Both seem dependent on pills to keep up their energy, not to mention their libidos, which most of the time seems particularly in high gear for Morris. Director Atom Egoyan does a good job capturing the dark, smoke-filled nightclubs, while Firth and Bacon show some talent in their limited on screen performances. Although it must be stated, Martin and Lewis, they ain't.
But when attractive college student Maureen O'Flaherty (Rachel Blanchard) is found dead in their Atlantic City hotel room, everything changes. Her death is ruled accidental and Collins and Morris avoid implication in the tragedy. However, their careers are not so lucky, as it effectively ends their partnership, not to mention general relevance in show business.
Cut to 15 years later and ambitious writer Karen O'Connor (Alison Lohman) is looking to dig into the mystery through a new book she's just negotiated a $1 million deal to pen about Collins and Morris. However, Collins is the only one willing to talk, but with no desire to discuss Maureen. A chance encounter on an airplane with Morris, who has no idea who Karen is, has the appearance of a budding romance, albeit one built on lies.
Meanwhile, Karen continues to work on Collins, desperately wanting him to talk about the one subject that she knows will get the book to fly off shelves. To say that she gets a little loose in her journalistic ethics while compiling interviews for the book would be an understatement. Taking recreational drugs and making out with a woman dressed like Alice in Wonderland (in what is a rather absurd sequence of events) are not normal professional practices.
In fact, on more than one occasion, the movie veers dangerously close towards the territory of camp. But in large part, thanks to the focused performances from Bacon and Firth, is able to veer back on track. Bacon, playing the sex and image obsessed Morris, certainly portrays him as a bit of a cad. But the character seems aware of this too, and is clearly haunted by Maureen's death. Collins is the colder and more impersonal of the two and seems to favor isolation, but Firth suggests demons just beneath his seemingly dignified exterior.
Egoyan has made a career out of unconventional movies, from the superb, elegiac "The Sweet Hereafter" to the sexually themed thriller "Exotica." With "Where the Truth Lies," he tackles film noir, adapting a Rupert Holmes novel to the big screen. If that author's name sounds familiar, think the guy who wrote "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)." Now you're getting where the unconventional part comes in. Having what would likely be deemed a somewhat unpolished source material, the movie is certainly not successful on all fronts. Some elements of the story, be it the multiple narrators, or frequent jumping between 1957 and 1972, can grow frustrating. But the film definitely can't be faulted for lack of effort.
(Note: The MPAA threatened the film with an NC-17 due to one sex scene they deemed inappropriate for an R. So Egoyan chose to release the film unrated, but its content is certainly no less controversial than any number of R rated films released any given week.)