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"The Truth About Charlie" is that it's a neo-French New Waveremake of a pre-French New Wave film called "Charade." The belovedoriginal starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. The remake stars Mark Wahlbergand Thandie Newton. This casting should give you a rough idea of director JonathanDemme's success in remaking Stanley Donen's bauble of a romantic thriller.
Demme's recipe for turning the blue-collar Wahlberg into a reasonable facsimileof the blue-blooded Grant seems to mostly involve remedial French lessons anda beret. But with this jaunty chapeau, the baby-faced Marky-Mark-alreadyinfantilized by fruity dialogue and his natural semi-lisp-instead lookslike a truant Rusty Griswold roaming through Paris. At one point I half-expectedChevy Chase to pop out of an alley and corral him back to the hotel.

Newton, however, captures the well-bred Hepburn mannerisms and deer-in-headlightslook with considerable grace and humor. An unhappy newlywed, Newton returnshome to find her apartment ransacked and filled with cops. The fuzz tells herthat not only is her husband dead, but he had more aliases than Sally Fieldin "Sybil." If that weren't bad enough, he seemed to rip offsome kind of treasure from both Tim Robbins and a gang of multi-cultural commandos.Oh, and Marky-Mark keeps showing up. It's enough to make any sane personreach for a strong gimlet and a .45, but Newton plays it as Hepburn did-incredulouslybatty. When the commandos come after her thinking that she may have the loot,she's actually polite to them.

These tonal shifts are droll (and worked in the sixties, since killers werea little more warm-blooded) but here and now they're only the start ofthe problem. Demme throws so many "look-at-me-ma-I'm-directing"tricks at the already thin (and frankly, somewhat silly) framework that he losescontrol of the material about 30 minutes into the film and never recovers. Wenever get the sense that anything is at stake in the film, especially duringa scene when ruthless killers, cops, and our romantic leads literally tangowith each other on a steamy dance floor. It's a funny idea, but jarringenough to make you think the DVD player somehow switched to over to "MoulinRouge."

It's all quite a bit of a shame, because the film is this close to beinga great work from Demme. The cinematography by Tak Fujimoto (who's shoteverything from "Death Race 2000" to "The Sixth Sense")is outstanding, and gives vivid, sexy grit to the Parisian locations. Demmehasn't lost a thing in the technical department-giving us POV shotsfrom a corpse, wild zooms through crowds and all kinds of swipes from Godardand Fellini. A feature commentary and deleted scenes are included, and-inperhaps a self-deprecating move by Demme or an intentional dis and dismiss bythe studio-so is the original version of "Charade."
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