Saturday, April 08, 2006

Where The Truth Lies

Before all of the Cormania, I saw Where the Truth Lies by Atom Egoyan.

It's a moderate piece of neo-noir that would be quite middle-of-the-road were it not for the performances of Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis... err... I mean Vince Collins and Lanny Morris.

Ok, in fairness, while I see nothing particular about the script that leads me to believe it was written so that the Vince Collins character was particularly different than Dean Martin, the casting of Firth and decision to have him play it with his own accent, started it down the road to being a much different person.

What's interesting is seeing that altered character play off Kevin Bacon's virtuoso performance as Jerry Lewis. Here's where I should make a confession. I can't stand Jerry Lewis. Many people for whom I have a great deal of respect find him absolutely hilarious and talented, so I certainly intend no offence, but he rubs me completely the wrong way. He's never made me laugh even once, and I can't say he's even ever made me crack a smile, and I even found the Dice Man character amusing once, when he first popped up in Making the Grade. But, somehow, I suspect I'm missing out.

Regardless, Kevin Bacon nails the arrogant, drug-addict, misogynist superstar of the '50s, wandering through a much later time in his career amazingly. He's like the nightmare scenario of every worst thing you might have imagined about Jerry Lewis off stage and screen, until, of course, the layers peel away from the onion of his character to reveal something much more complicated.

"Having to be a nice guy is the toughest job in the world when you're not."

I haven't brought up the plot, because the plot, isn't particularly important. In fact, when it gets too caught up in the plot is when it doesn't quite work. And even at its finest moments, it's dependent on the characters and performances to make them work. It involves the murder of a young woman that Collins and Morris are the only reasonable suspects for yet have the alibi of having been on live television, hosting a three day telethon, at the time of the murder. A young reporter, Alison Lohman, is investigating the story for a book. As the story progresses, we learn more and more about her interest in the story and watch as she gets increasingly tied into the lives of the two falling stars.

The movie is not nearly as good as it ought to be. Lohman does a fine job showing how she found her way into the trust of the two participants, but seems too weak and unsophisticated around her publishers to suggest someone who could have arranged the kind of book deal she seems to have. It certainly is entertaining and thought provoking in a strange kind of way.

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