Mark Wahlberg is a movie star no doubt about it. Since he left his prosperous career as head of the funky bunch behind, he has been the star of big budget movies, one after another. He has been acclaimed (Boogie Nights) and commended (Planet of the Apes). But after The Truth About Charlie, the proverbial gig may be up.
In this new murder mystery, Wahlberg manages to give one of the worst acting performances in a big budget movie this side of Sly Stallone. That’s not to say that his previous acting was a brush with brilliance or anything. It’s just that he was more suited for his previous roles, which include a bad actor in Boogie Nights and a New England native in The Perfect Storm – in no way stretches.
With this film, however, Wahlberg is called on to play a mysterious, romantic spy – not likely. He looks as though he walked right out of a high school drama class.
The Truth About Charlie, a remake of an Audrey Hepburn film called Charade, stars Wahlberg as Joshua Peters, a too-good-to-be-true suitor veiled in secrecy. The object of his desire is Regina (Thandie Newton in the Hepburn role), who has come back from vacation to find her Paris apartment empty, her husband dead in a nearby morgue and multiple groups looking to her for the whereabouts of $6 million that her husband stole.
Regina has to ward off a band of her husband’s covert military mates he ripped off. The cops want answers, which an American agent (Tim Robbins) has, but he only wants the money. All the while, Regina is trying to figure out who Joshua really is – and what he really wants from her.
Renowned director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) has made an uncharacteristically bad film this time out of the gate.
He has a good cast and good cinematography, but the film as a whole just doesn’t work.
Newton (Mission Impossible 2) gives an outstanding performance, but any on-screen chemistry between her and Wahlberg fizzles as a result of her co-star’s lousy effort.
Demme’s sincere portrayal of the French culture that is on display as the film’s backbone is a rare treat. His experimental cinematography – an abundance of extreme close-ups, scene-transition trickery and wobbly camera action – may be considered over-the-top and artificial by some, but it is one of the only shreds of decency here.
Unfortunately, those are the only two interesting details of the film.
About the only thing that The Truth About Charlie succeeds at is being one of the most dull films of the year – with an equally lackluster performance by Wahlberg for good measure.
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