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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.9%
Worth A Look: 9.68%
Just Average: 19.35%
Pretty Crappy45.16%
Sucks: 12.9%

3 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Where the Truth Lies
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by Erik Childress

"Like An Episode Of Veronica Mars Written By Joe Eszterhas"
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: When a ratings board appeal begins to populate the headlines with angry filmmakers talking about “important” scenes, its instinctual to take the side of the director in their fight. No respectable film lover wants to get in bed with the ratings board, a glorified censorship community with no more standards than each anonymous focus group has practice with film history. A fight against the dreaded NC-17 sharpens up our knives and get us ready for the eventual shiving when we see the “importance” of such groundbreaking cinema. Well, at ease my cinephile soldiers. There’s very little to fight for with Atom Egoyan’s latest except to be the first one on the block to see Alison Lohman and Rachel Blanchard naked.

Based on the murder mystery by Rupert Holmes, the writer also responsible for "The Pina Colada Song", Egoyan’s film revolves around a Martin-and-Lewis-esque team from the 70s. Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) was the loudmouth and Vince Collins (Colin Firth) was the straight man, famous for their nightclub gigs and 36-hour telethons. During one of their trips, a dead girl is found in their hotel bathtub. They broke up soon after, neither of them talking past the official story that was fashioned for them.

Years later, Karen O’Connor (Lohman), a young journalist, is competing to write a tell-all book about the pair against Lanny himself, whose pages keep getting leaked to her publisher. Karen was famously part of their telethon once as a polio survivor who read her thanks to a live audience and garnering tears from a shaken Lanny. She feels a responsibility to find justice for the bathtub girl but maintains a girlish loyalty to the duo who may have been a small part in keeping her alive.

We anticipate this as Egoyan’s central turmoil, manifesting itself nicely in a scene where Lanny explains to Karen of all the things he can’t do while being a celebrity. Beyond truth and fiction, there are two sides to every public persona which include secrets and even lying to oneself. Like Robert Wuhl’s sportswriter in Cobb or the writer penning the tale of Liberty Valance, there’s truth and then there’s legend. And truth is what can change fame to infamy.

But this single scene is all we have to convert the material beyond what is nothing more than a slightly classed-up late-night Cinemax titty twister. Graphic sex is certainly a part of the behind-the-scenes world of Hollywood, but when it leaks into Karen’s reality all of a sudden its like watching an episode of Veronica Mars penned by Joe Eszterhas. Lohman (despite being 26) may have wielded her junior high looks to her advantage in Matchstick Men and White Oleander, but she is woefully miscast as the doe-faced journalist. Naivete may have been the point, but it’s hard to grasp her as someone with the edge and moxie to get under these guys skin instead of being so easily duped to show off her own. We need Bacon’s wife Kyra Sedgwick as The Closer, not Nancy Drew by way of Rory Gilmore.

The magnitude of the descent which the film takes with its horns-a-blazin’ score by Mychael Danna is tough to take since it opens with so much promise. Bacon’s performance is another marvel in an underrated career and I was sure this may finally be the film to snag him an Oscar nomination before the story almost totally forgets about him in the second half. Firth is his equal and their performance scenes together have a snap and a crackle within some solid production design by Phillip Barker. But its no match for how far the film sinks with its memory lapsed clues and no less than three third act story reversals before the truth reinforces the oldest four-word mystery cliché in the book. Say it with me now…

There’s no shame in Atom Egoyan wanting to take a daybreak from his usual more loftier projects like Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter but there’s greater disappointment when he fails to transcend or make just a superior example of the genre. With all the Cain he’s raising with the ratings board, I cannot believe in my heart that he was just tossing this one off to have a little fun. His goals clearly were stretching for something more significant, making it harder to write off as a lark and more of an absolute failure. As for the controversy regarding “the film’s most important scene”, it’s not all that shocking – in appearance nor its big revelation. There’s an Oscar contender coming out later this year that depicts a similar action, but I guess the puritans at the MPAA are making a distinction between love and rape. I suppose that’s progress on their part, dividing the line between what doesn’t and what does feel forced, as much of Where The Truth Lies does.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12762&reviewer=198
originally posted: 09/20/05 23:43:41
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/06/12 Rosey Posey HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE, etc. 1 stars
7/23/11 mr.mike I canf say where the truth lies cause I shut it off after 40 minutes. 2 stars
3/23/10 carol miles More pcs like this from Colin Firth and he'll just about be ready to host game shows. 1 stars
2/14/07 Flavia Aninger It's worth seeing because of Firth and Bacon! 4 stars
9/27/06 elemacd the nc-17 rating effectively killed it 5 stars
9/06/06 William Goss Remarkable efforts by Bacon and Firth are undermined by a poor Lohman and the sleazy story. 2 stars
5/05/06 Victoria D'Orazi A LAME EXCUSE FOR SOFT PORNOGRAPHY 1 stars
3/16/06 Lookoutpi Breathtaking movie making, average scripting 4 stars
3/05/06 ALBERT excellent in every departament.KEVIN BACON shold have been nomitated for oscar. 5 stars
10/11/05 Paul William Roberts utter crap 1 stars
9/18/05 denny expected more from egoyan; too mainstream 4 stars
9/16/05 Carmen Saw this at the TIFF. It was outstanding. 5 stars
9/14/05 Mary An amazing movie with unexpected twists and turns. Daring, provocative, question-raising. 5 stars
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  14-Oct-2005 (NC-17)
  DVD: 28-Feb-2006



Directed by
  Atom Egoyan

Written by
  Atom Egoyan

  Kevin Bacon
  Colin Firth
  Alison Lohman
  Sonja Bennett
  Rachel Blanchard
  Kathryn Winslow

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