The Truth About CharlieOctober 25, 2002
A young woman in Paris is about to divorce her husband when she discovers… he's dead; and all their money is gone…
Release Year: 2002
Rating: 4.7/10 (6,398 voted)
Critic's Score: 55/100
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Thandie Newton, Tim Robbins
A young woman in Paris is about to divorce her husband when she discovers… he's dead; and all their money is gone. She meets a mysterious man, who tells her that the money was really his, and he wants it back, seemingly convinced that she's hiding the cash. Meanwhile, more people end up dead…
Writers: Peter Stone, Jonathan Demme
Junior Military Officer
Woman on Train
Cassius Kumar Wilkinson
Lisa Gay Hamilton
Release Date: 25 October 2002
Filming Locations: Cimetière de Montmarte, Paris 18, Paris, France
Opening Weekend: $2,270,290
(27 October 2002)
(17 November 2002)
Did You Know?
The part of Joshua Peters was originally intended for Will Smith, but due to extended production on
Ali he was unable to meet start of filming on Charlie, so Demme had to move forward with Mark Wahlberg instead, losing the Thandie Newton/Will Smith "double-act" he had imagined watching the original movie
After Regina is attacked by Zadapec in the elevator and Joshua pulls him off her, he tells her to take the elevator up and you see the elevator start going up. However, the next camera shot from her view is with the elevator going down.
Can I ask you something real quick and make it like ripping off a band-aid, okay?
Ow. Go Ahead.
Is there a Mr. Regina?
Not for long.
An Insult to a Great Classic
Mystery films come and go; a precious few stand the test of time. "Charade,'
for my money the greatest whodunit ever made, is a masterpiece of tone,
miraculously blending the disparate elements of suspense, humor and romance
more successfully than any film I've ever seen. Enhanced by the dashing
beauty and charisma of its two stars, Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, the
sophisticated wit of its ingenious script, the shimmering beauty of its
on-location photography, and, of course, the classic strains of its Henry
Mancini score, "Charade" is a movie that one can enjoy no matter how many
times one has seen it.
I wonder how many people will be saying the same thing about `The Truth
About Charlie' – Jonathan Demme's utterly pointless remake of this great
film – four decades from now (the original title, `Charade,' is actually
more appropriate because the story deals with lies, deception and falsehoods
in general and not just in relation to that particular character). I have
absolutely no idea how anyone unfamiliar with the original work will respond
to this film. I can just say that, for diehard devotees of the 1963 Stanley
Donen classic, `The Truth About Charlie' is a travesty on every level
imaginable. (And, alas, that great Henry Mancini score is nowhere to be
found on this version's soundtrack, the first of many strikes against this
Although this new version shares the basic plot premise of the original, it
has completely eliminated most of the elements that made `Charade' such a
world-class, timeless charmer. First of all, in what universe could Mark
Wahlberg and Thandia Newton possibly be considered replacements for Cary
Grant and Audrey Hepburn, two of the greatest screen legends of all time?
Yes, Ms. Newton has a certain attractiveness and appeal at times, but her
one-note expression of pouting bemusement does grow tiresome after awhile.
The real trouble, however, comes with Wahlberg, a fine actor who has turned
in some impressive film performances in the past, but who is just plain
disastrous in this part. His character is supposed to be a suave, debonair
gentleman who attempts to win Reggie's confidence after her husband has been
murdered for stealing $6 million and she becomes the hapless target of a
band of hooligans who want their share and who believe she knows where it
is. Wahlberg has never looked more uncomfortable or out of place than he
does here, trying to appear `sincere' and `concerned, ' but coming across as
merely epicene and amateurish. This is, in fact, the worst case of
miscasting I have seen in a film in a long, long time. How can one have a
remake of `Charade' – of all films! – with two stars who lack charisma and
generate zero romantic chemistry when they're together on screen?
Even more detrimental, perhaps, is the fact that virtually all the wonderful
humor from the original script has been excised, a strange turn of events
indeed considering the fact that the original writer, Peter Stone, also had
a hand in this venture (here he has assumed the pseudonym of `Peter Joshua,'
one of the names ascribed to the Grant character in the earlier film,
although the name, for no apparent reason, has been inverted for Wahlberg).
The very few comic lines that have been retained are delivered so poorly by
the actors that we wince every time we hear them.
So now we have a remake of `Charade' utterly devoid of humor and romance.
What else could go wrong? Well, in the original, the secondary characters
all stood out as finely drawn figures in their own right. The three men
chasing Reggie for the money James Coburn, Ned Glass and Arthur Kennedy
had each a retinue of fascinating personality quirks that helped distinguish
one character from the other. In `Charlie,' the three `villains' not only
comprise a blandly homogenous group, but they do not even remain consistent
as characters. The most egregious example is Lola (Lisa Gay Hamilton) who
spends the entire film bullying and threatening Regina, then inexplicably
and in a matter of minutes, becomes some sort of heroine whom Regina comes
to love and admire. It makes no sense at all. The concluding scene, in
which the characters all meet up together to reveal their true identities
and unravel the mystery, is so ham-handed in its execution that one wonders
if the filmmakers ever even saw the flawlessly executed Donen original. It
is the low point in a film made up of little else but low points. Demme has
also injected an idiotic plot strand involving Reggie's husband's insane
mother, but the less said about that the better. In fact, one suspects that
the sole reason for this storyline is to allow the director to feature famed
French director Agnes Varda in a cameo role. Indeed, `Charlie' is filled
with all sorts of pointless homages to French culture in general and the
French New Wave in particular, including a clip from Truffaut's `Shoot the
Piano Player' and a truly bizarre cabaret scene with famed Jean Luc Godard
actress Anna Karina belting out a song while the characters perform a
surreal tango that throws us out of the film's world completely. In fact,
Demme has tried to recreate much of the style of 60's cinema by employing a
camera that rarely ever sits still and a razzle-dazzle editing technique
that attempts to substitute style for substance. The effort is too
self-consciously cutesy to be even slightly effective.
This does, however, bring us to the one undeniable element of value in `The
Truth About Charlie': Tak Fujimoto's eye-popping cinematography, which does
a superlative job bringing out the colorful richness of the Paris
A word of praise to anything or anyone else involved in this production
would, however, be excessive. Demme has taken a film that just about
defines the word `style' and turned it into a hollow, soulless exercise
utterly devoid of wit, suspense, romance and star charisma all the
elements in fact that made `Charade' such a golden, timeless treasure.
Avoid the theaters and head to the nearest video store to pick up a copy of
`Charade' – and see what a great film is really all about.