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Volume 68, Issue 46, Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Arts & Entertainment

'Truth' fails to make any sense

By Lindsey Bowers
The Daily Cougar

For his latest film, The Truth About Charlie, Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme has taken a rather unconventional, unpredictable and utterly unique step with his spin on French New Wave filmmaking.

Contrary to his other works, The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, this movie throws classic structure in the wind and puts viewers on a twisting and turning cinematic roller coaster ride.

Sadly, this is one roller coaster that almost made me sick.

In Jonathan Demmeis The Truth About Charlie, Mark Wahlberg fails to entertain without taking off his shirt.
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

No, it wasnit filled with the gore of blood and guts; the cause was actually the dizzying camera movement in the beginning scenes between the two leading characters. Just when the audience is introduced to the characters played by Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton, the camera moves in an annoying panning motion where itis hard to focus on the subjectis face, even in a close-up shot.

Now, Iim sure there is some kind of artistic meaning behind this camera motion, but watching a movie shouldnit be bothersome just because a director wants to try some new tricks. Seriously, these sequences were so hard to watch that my eyes started to water. There is a rule of thumb concerning camera movement that says all motion shots should begin and end with well-composed static frames.

Even though these basic rules are made to be broken, this attempt at cinematographic creativity failed because it was so visually distracting.

As when watching The Blair Witch Project or a bad episode of NYPD Blue, you eventually get used to the atypical camera style. Or, maybe the rest of the film was easier to watch because that horrible panning motion was used only in the beginning of the film.

The Truth About Charlie is a remake of Stanley Donenis Charade, the 1963 romantic thriller starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Letis make something perfectly clear: Wahlberg and Newton are no Grant and Hepburn.

The two modern versions of leading loves Joshua Peters and Regina Lambert are less than believable and seem unmotivated. Part of the fault lies in the script, but the rest lies in the acting.

Though Wahlbergis character is supposed to be constantly reinventing himself, Wahlbergis actual performance was static. He claims this to be his most challenging role yet, but his most entertaining scene is the one where he takes off his shirt.

Much like Wahlbergis acting, the story is disappointing. 

Sometimes, you sit through a whole movie, wondering whatis going on and why the characters act as they do, but in the end, it all makes sense.

The beauty of those scripts is that the audience goes home with a sense of satisfaction that everything is all figured out.

Even if things arenit tied in a neat little bow, sometimes these stories leave you with some thought-provoking new perspective of humanity, an ultimate truth or a surprise revelation about a certain character. In its conclusion, this story leaves the viewer with nothing.

The actual truth about Charlie is that Demme has paid more attention to being artsy than to creating a good movie.

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