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|Where the Truth Lies|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir-scr Atom Egoyan|
with Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman, David Hayman, Rachel Blanchard, Sonja Bennett, Kathryn Winslow, Kristin Adams, Rebecca Davis, Maury Chaykin, Don McKellar, Arsinée Khanjian
release US 14.Oct.05, UK 2.Dec.05
05/Canada ThinkFilm 1h48
Looking for trouble: Bacon and Firth
Lush and jazzy, this beautifully crafted film tells its twisty noir story without flinching. It's a boiling cauldron swirling with secrets and half-truths, and as we put the pieces together, it's absolutely gripping.
Lanny and Vince (Bacon and Firth) are a 1950s comedy double-act (think Lewis and Martin); Lanny's staggering outrageousness is tempered by Vince's gentlemanly Britishness. Then a young hotel maid (Blanchard) is found dead in their suite. Now 15 years later, in 1972, the young journalist Karen (Lohman) is working on Vince's biography, looking for answers. And becoming part of the story. Again.
Egoyan (and novelist Rupert Holmes, of The Piña Colada Song fame) are playing with fact and fiction here, as Lanny and Vince tell vaguely different stories about their past. They're clearly hiding something, and their voiceover narrations, plus Karen's, constantly give us conflicting details and telling observations. But like the best films noir, none of this is reliable. And we have to sift through the story to find out what really happened.
Bacon and Firth deliver full-on performances--charming, energetic and overflowing with personality, to the point where we like but don't trust either of them. The script delves tellingly into issues of fame and privacy, the differences between stardom and reality, the fact that it's hard to be a nice guy for the fans--especially when that's not you. And Lohman is superb as a kind of femme fatale who's both a young child and a grown woman. It's a deceptively difficult role that she nails perfectly.
The story itself is a wonder of shaded coincidences and mysteries combined with eye-opening scenes, sharply witty dialog and more plot contortions than you can count. It's all heightened brilliantly by Mychael Danna's grandly suggestive score, which segues varied sounds of the 50s and 70s into iconic pop tunes. And Egoyan plays with us incessantly as he shifts the power around between the three central characters with their secretive longings and intricate interconnections. In the process he really gets under our skin, delivering one of the most adult thrillers of the year.
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© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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