MovieHype00652 – WHERE THE TRUTH LIES
Since I’ve been stuck up here in the Witness Protection Program, I’ve tried to sample Canadian art. As I’ve written about extensively, at best Canadian TV is a mixed bag. (It’s actually a bag o’ barf, which I can safely write without fear of reprisal, as Canadians aren’t bright enough to read inside parentheses.) Their movies are much better. One of the acclaimed directors is Atom Egoyan. I’m not sure I’d like to have this fellow over for dinner with what’s going on in his head, but it does make for some interesting experiences.
The latest is WHERE THE TRUTH LIES, known chiefly for getting slapped with an NC-17 rating. I heard Egoyan recut for an ‘R,’ but also released his original version unrated. If you’re going to watch the movie at all, that’s the version you need to see.
We start off with Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth as entertainers Lanny Morris and Vince Collins, doing a telethon fighting polio in
Cut to 15 years later (1972 in case you can’t add). A young reporter named Karen O’Connor (played by Allison Lohman), lands a book contract to interview the Colin Firth character about his life, the comedy duo, and what happened to the girl. She seems to think they did it, even though they have an airtight alibi; live on national television 2000 miles away at the time. The movie goes back and forth between both time periods, as we struggle to find out what happened, or more poetically, where the truth lies.
Ostensibly WHERE THE TRUTH LIES is film noir, of which most of you know I’m a big fan. But it’s not a normal one. In fact, this might be the weirdest movie I’ve seen in several years. I couldn’t get a handle on it. I couldn’t figure out if I loved it or hated it. It’s that weird. Through it all the film was still watchable, and then you get to the last 40 minutes, and I understood. All the weirdness of the movie exists for the payoff. When that payoff starts it’s one hit after another. I got goose bumps at least 6 times down the stretch. That hasn’t happened for me in a while.
Suspension of Disbelief: 4. There’s nothing supernatural or anything, but you have to believe in quite a few coincidences. Then again, maybe the ‘70s really were like that.
Genre Grade: Perhaps the best genre there is: Adult Film Noir. I think the best recent example of this is
Family Fare: a world of no. This is movie you watch with your honey, all snuggled up with the lights off. Or maybe a bunch of guys, or—and if this happens could you please film yourselves and send me the tape?—a bunch of girls. Oh, and I need to mention. For what must be the 4th time recently, Kevin Bacon refuses to make a movie without showing us his dangling member. Someone needs to talk to him about this.
Kickassability? Most definitely. The wow-factor here is how slick various characters are, and how smoothly they pull off what they’re about. There aren’t any fights, but the verbal jousts are worth it. 40.
Pantheon Percentile: Obviously being geared towards adults, WHERE THE TRUTH LIES can’t be considered as high in the overall pantheon. Also, though they payoff makes the set-up worth it, you’re uncomfortable somewhat at the beginning. 58.
I need to take a moment to talk about the sex. Egoyan has always put graphic sex and nudity in his movies, but he uses it in a weird way. Don’t get me wrong, the scenes are sexy, but they are so disturbing that I couldn’t enjoy them on a normal pervert level. I know it sounds weird (especially for me to claim), but the sex is used as a character, a weapon almost, and is so integral to the plot that you spend your time wondering what means what (and even if you are seeing what you think you’re seeing.) Far be it for me to complain about any sex/nudity in a film, but it would be nice if they could have put at least one gratuitous sex scene in that I could have enjoyed unmitigated. Bottom Line: if sex in a movie bothers you, stay far away.
Colin Firth is wonderful, and Kevin Bacon continues his unbelievable run lately, trying to sneak into the conversation of the Best 20 Working Actors alive. (I say working because obviously De Niro is one of the ten best actors alive, but since he sold his soul for cash he doesn’t make the “working” list.) They have incredible chemistry, and effortlessly portray the life of Rat-Pack Entertainers. If you made a list of the best chemistry in 2005 movies, these two make the top five.
I love how slick these two were. They had moves you wouldn’t believe. At the beginning watching the telethon I was thinking, ‘They’re not that talented.’ But watching the duo in action you realize how they made it as big as they did. These guys have moves. I wasn’t as impressed with Lohman, but her character never felt comfortable to me. She seemed too young, too knowledgeable and at the same time, way too naïve. Since everything came back around again at the end, I’m tempted to think it was on purpose.
Here’s something: You know that song Go Ask Alice, with the lyrics “One pill makes you bigger, and one pill makes you small”? I feel like an idiot now, but I had no idea that was referring to Alice in Wonderland. I now know. WHERE THE TURTH LIES explains it to me, in a way I never would have imagined. I still feel shaky thinking about it.
I won’t lie to you and say that every single explanation makes sense. Part of the film still feels under water to me; I can see it, but can’t quite get what I’m looking at with the motion of the waves. Bottom Line: I’m glad I saw it, and I can’t wait to hear reactions from friends.