Retro Review: Truth About Charlie

Mark Wahlberg stars in a remake of the 1963 classic “Charade” which starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

The story opens with Regina (Reggie) Lambert (Thandie Newton) arriving back in Paris to find her husband Charlie Lambert (Stephen Dillane) has been murdered.

A mysterious stranger, Joshua Peters (Mark Wahlberg) swears to help the fractured Regina track down her husband’s killer. Is Peters to be trusted? Who are the three people following Regina? What secret died with her husband?

“Truth About Charlie” isn’t your average “whodunit”. The film has elements of the “noir” pictures of the 1930’s as well as a lot of influence from European films in texture and tone.

The way some of the scenes are shot reminded me a lot of Roman Polanski especially his film, “Frantic” with Harrison Ford.

There is a lot of grit in the shadowed streets of Paris which seem to enhance the scene.The scope and photography associated with the scenes in the “flea market” are a perfect example of what I mean.

For the most part I really enjoyed this film. I had never seen the original film “Charade” for which this adaptation is based. I did however notice that Mark Wahlberg’s character’s name is Joshua Peters and Cary Grant’s name in the original was Peter Joshua. But in some ways it helps single this film away from the classic.

The new film delivers a very interesting look no matter if the film is based on another movie.

The film echoes the elements and emotion ripping through Reggie’s head. We as an audience don’t feel secure until some of the plot points are revealed to Reggie.

I like movies that take their time divulging information. It helps the audience understand the characters and feel their emotion when revelations begin. This definitely does that theory justice.

I have always thought Mark Wahlberg to have great on-screen presence and a debonair leading man quality.

Wahlberg proves once again that he has leading man presence in his performance as Joshua Peters.

There are even some elements of 1930s and 1940s style leading man in his portrayal. From wearing a fedora to doing everything possible to help Reggie, Wahlberg does a fine job of making Peters a sort of echo the leading men of the past.

I first noticed Thandie Newton in 1995’s “The Journey of August King” where she played a feisty escaped slave who farmer (Jason Patric) must help. I was sucked in by her gripping performance and to this day it has stuck with me.

Her cinematic allure was amazing in that she was meek and withdrawn one minute and strong-willed and feisty the next.

In “Truth”, Newton uses her “meek” persona with cinematic accuracy when she plays Reggie but as her character evolves we can see the actress slowly let go. With critically hailed performances in “Beloved” and “Besieged” to her credit, Newton is on her way to becoming a very interesting actress to watch.

The only problems I had with this film were some of the oddities director Jonathan Demme inserted into the film. The final scene has a man step in front of the camera like a news reporter and burst into song. That was a little strange. I also wasn’t sure if the film’s final ending was the strongest it could have been. There was a lot of Charlie I liked.

3 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

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