on September 23, 2006
I am a fan of several of Atom Egoyan's films, and was curious about the milieu of this one. Since seeing it, I find my mind drifting back to it with some consistency; empirically speaking, I know it affected me on some levels that I'm only dimly aware of. I thought Kevin Bacon's take on a character meant to remind us of the older Jerry Lewis was rich and daring; Colin Firth made an indelible impression as his straight man, the repressed but debonair Brit standing in for Dean Martin's suave Italian-American. Alison Lohman seems not quite up to her key role, and I found myself wondering if Egoyan might have had someone more cerebral like Sarah Polley (he cast her so perfectly in The Sweet Hereafter) in mind instead. A classic whodunit dressed up in artsy chronology, you will find yourself changing your mind a few times about what really happened before the final scenes.
on November 2, 2005
I am very gratified that the word of mouth on this film, as found on this site, has been so good. The official reviews have been mixed at best, and the film's release has been severely limited, perhaps due to the ratings controversy.
From what I heard in the audience in NYC, I got the impression that Atom Egoyan's fans expected more from him, something more profound and meaningful, perhaps. As pure entertainment, though, and for style and aura, Where the Truth Lies succeeds admirably. I had read the book before seeing the film, and Bacon and Firth truly nail the characters of Vince Collins (who was Italian-American in the book, but changed to a suave Brit as played by Firth) and Lanny Morris.
The complicated love relationship between the two of them and their use of their celebrity for both good and ill is fascinating. It is too easy for critics to dismiss the film as cheesy film noir when it is so much more than that.
Their breakup as portrayed in the film was as painful as the breakup of any long-term marriage, perhaps more so, as for one of them at least, what lay under the surface had been repressed for so long.
Bacon and Firth give rich, nuanced performances that have been extolled even by those who disliked the film. I've seen the film several times, each time finding something new to admire on different levels. Colin Firth is one of the most gifted and underrated actors of our generation and can say more with facial expressions than most actors can with pages of dialogue. Kevin Bacon delivers a sharp, edgy performance that ranks with his best roles.
I suppose I could comment on the intricate plot, the story told differently through different voices and from different perspectives, but that isn't what made the film so remarkable. "Where the truth lies" is a double entendre, and if you watch and listen carefully, you will enjoy it not only for the entertaining murder mystery, but for what is beneath the surface.
As of this date, it hasn't been in many theaters, but it is worth going out of your way to see. I'm looking forward to the DVD and hope it will be released uncut as Egoyan intended it to be seen.
on March 21, 2006
From the two main leads, I had hoped this film would be good. Unfortunately, it was only engrossing in fits and starts. To begin with, Colin Firth was badly miscast and played his part almost as if sleepwalking. I could get no insight into the man or his motivations. Kevin Bacon was better--and the best part of the movie although not up to his top form. His portrayal of the sleazy Lannie was relatively convincing but he got very little help from the plot or his co-cast members. And Alison Lohman, I'm sorry, was pretty terrible. For someone playing a supposedly junior hot-shot reporter, she was not only slack-jawed and naive appearing, but also irritating. In addition, the plot had her swinging from doe-eyed and innocent admirer to wanton sexual playmate without an iota of believability or back-up character development. The storytelling technique of voice-overs and flashbacks can be effective but in this case I found it primarily confusing and distracting. Overall, what could have been a well-done neo-noir mystery with intriguing twists and turns seemed merely muddy and offputting.
on September 17, 2011
SPOILER ALERT -- ! this review contains information about the plot
happy with books author name: Susan Smith Nash
If you take the plot alone, or simply analyze the various subplots, you're likely to be very disappointed in this film about a 1950s comedy duo, Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) and Vince Collins (Colin Firth), who broke up at the pinnacle of their success.
However, Egoyan uses the plot to create a complex rendering of perception in the same manner as in his utterly brilliant Exotica (1994).
In Where the Truth Lies, the action begins fifteen years after the duo's breakup when a writer, Karen O'Connor (Alison Lohman), wishes to chronicle their story. We come to find out that the reason for the breakup was the attempt by a young journalism student, Maureen O'Flaherty (Rachel Blanchard), to blackmail them when, during an encounter in a hotel room involving the three of them, the "straight man" of the duo reveals he has been physically attracted to his partner and begins to act on it, to be rebuffed. Seizing on the information as a way to pay for her future, the budding extortionist stays in their suite that night, just to turn up dead the next morning.
There are many ways to develop the plot, and Atom Egoyan does so in a way that unveils slowly and sometimes painfully each character's defining weaknesses, fears, and desires, jarringly discordant with their smooth, polished, often ethereally beautiful surfaces. This is metafictive noir at is finest (and most agonizing for some viewers).
Egoyan is never simply cerebral, and his mise-en-scene suggests perceptions of time present and time past are relentlessly mediated by a body that bridges fantasy and reality. The film moves back and forth from 1957 and 1972, both are gorgeously, impeccably true to the times and the feeling of privilege and glamour. There are noir elements in Egoyan's film, with edgy ambivalence about women and women's physicality: one can be drawn to them, but they will inevitably lead one to one's demise.
It's not too surprising that the tree planted by the mother of the the young femme fatale extortionist who was murdered in the hotel room turns out to be an apple tree, its limbs hanging heavy with bright red apples, ready for Eve's temptations. When the duo attempt to re-enact the "badger game" and pressure the writer to stop writing the memoir by taking photos of her in a compromising situation with a female (supplied by the duo), the effort backfires. Vince commits suicide.
Egoyan's approach to cinematography is very structural, and all his core shots and scenes are repeated and echoed often in four or five separate scenes in order to build interpretative possibilities that are both complex and undeniable.
Perhaps the most poignant is embodied in Kevin Bacon's performance: all the strength, passion, anger, loyalty, and good fortune in the world do not knit reality into a seamless, understandable fabric.
To use another image to represent Egoyan's approach to narrative, reality, and perception: think of a big mirrored ball, where all is fragmented, infinitely repeating and reflecting, but not ever quite knowable, slowly, slowly revolving.
While this film is not the brilliant Exotica, it contains the elements that made me love Egoyan's directorial vision, and it is well worth watching.
on April 29, 2014
Read the novel instead. The movie leaves out the first 1/3 of the book. Then makes changes at the end which make no sense. And a serious miscasting of Colin Firth in what was supposed to be the part of an Italian-American. But Kevin Bacon was pretty much perfect for his part.
Really loved the book, which was written by the guy who did the "pina colada" song. Book better than his songs. Highly recommend.
on January 22, 2006
I can usually forgive the complicated story especially when it is about a murder mystery or film noir. That is, if there is something that interests us - dead body, sexy woman, cool detective, or whatever. That `Where the Truth Lies' demands so much suspense of disbelief is already a big problem, but more problematic is that Karen O'Conner (Allison Lohman) is such a boring heroine as young fledging journalist who wants to know the `truths' about the two TV stars doing telethons in the 50s and a dead body of a beautiful woman found in a bathtub. (And Karen disrobes herself - yes, guys, there is nudity, just for the record. So if you're interested in Ms. Lohamn like me, see the uncut version.)
The story itself is intriguing, I admit. (I haven't read the original book by Rupert Holmes, but if you say it is better, I believe it). Young Karen, so desperate to find a big story, approaches two former TV celebrities, Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) and Vince Collins (Colin Firth). They were popular vaudevillians, and did a successful telethon on a broadcast during the 50s.
Now the time is 1972, the place, Los Angels. After meeting Vince in person who requires one million dollars, Karen finally gets a chance to read the inside stories written by Lanny, who so far has never told anything about the `unlucky incident' at the hotel. In the meanwhile, she gets a chance to know Lanny personally, and is attracted to him, only to find that the truths are more complicated and dangerous than she thought.
[TOO IMPOSSIBLE] I say again the premise is interesting. But any noir film or any kind of drama using the idea of crime mystery needs meticulously detailed descriptions of characters and situations, but sadly Atom Edoyan must have thought otherwise. We are told that Karen can pretend that she is `Bonnie' (Sonja Bennett) her friend and second-grade teacher, and use Bonnie's room to cover up her identity when she meets Lanny. We are told that Karen is an inexperienced journalist, but somehow she gets a contract worth $ one million. And that's one million dollars in the 70s when Lanny and Vince are now forgotten TV stars in the 50s, not Jerry and Dean. And we must believe that these Lanny and Vince are not only promiscuous (that part I can believe) but also so violent that Vince can beat up a rude audience at backstage. And it is Colin Firth (!) who surely is trying to undo his Darcy image.
But if you have to find the truths about this film, it can be found in poor acting of Allison Lohman. Yes, I wrote, poor. Maybe I should have written `miscast' but I do not actually mind the casting itself very much. But I still think her acting is disappointing, lacking emotional nuances that are essential in letting us know what Karen is feeling at each key scene. This is only my impression, but when Karen feels pride (for her job), joy (for meeting Lanny), fear (for experiencing what I cannot write here), or compassion (for the mother of the dead woman), Karen looks the same all the time. And there is nudity and kissing with another girl (attired in Alice in Wonderland costume). I tried to figure out the meaning of them, but at best they are as deep as the lyrics of Jefferson Airplane songs.
Only reliable Kevin Bacon and the perfect production designs are impressive in `Where the Truth Lies.' The rest of the film is a series of awfully incredible twists and turns of mystery which is in fact a very shallow one.
WHERE THE TRUTH LIES is based on a book by former pop singer Rupert Holmes (PINA COLADA SONG, HIM). When I read the book, I wasn't too impressed so I wasn't sure how to approach the film version. While it's quite different in many ways, the same problem remains: the characters just aren't likeable. We have a comedy team (a la Martin and Lewis) who are merely pillpopping, narcissitic hedonists, and they are implicated in the mysterious death of a young room service girl whom they seduced. Along comes a gungho writer who wants to write a book on why they split and just what happened with the girl. Said writer also happens to be the same young girl appearing on one of their yearly telethons in 1957. The movie is set in 1972, and writer/director Atom Egoyan (THE SWEET HEREAFTER) uses flashback and narrative to tie the two time periods together. The acting is a disappointment: Kevin Bacon as the comic, acerbic Lanny Morris goes from lethargy to almost Rod Steigerish outbursts; Colin Firth gives Vince Collins no energy or soul, and seems merely working; Alison Lohman possesses the naivete of the journalist, but not the maturity needed, particularly in a senseless lesbian liaison with an aspiring singer; David Hayman scores better as Ruben, the loyal "attendant" to Morris. As a character study, it has no real depth; as a mystery, it doesn't focus enough on the motivation and mechanics to be truly mysterious. Although it is somewhat entertaining, it's not a movie that will stay with you very long.
on July 8, 2015
Honestly, even after watching this film twice, I still don't fully understand it, but that's why I plan to read the book one day; maybe it'll give me some more background and help me comprehend things a bit better. But for the most part, I still liked it; it was the mystery and sensuality of the film that I really enjoyed, and of course, the acting was fantastic! Firth and Bacon did an awesome job! Alison Lohman was great as well, I just had a hard time seeing her play the type of character that would allow herself to be seduced by the men. I guess that was the point, though. But I would totally like to see how another actress would pull off that role; I could see someone like...Heather Graham playing Karen a.k.a. Bonnie Trout. Nonetheless, cool film as it is! I find myself wanting to watch it over and over until I fully grasp where the truth lies!
on December 10, 2013
This one seems to be based on a time in American entertainment history when this could have happened. The twists and turns of the story brings us to a surprise ending. The acting is high quality and the story is believable. I recommend it as a watch when you want to be exploring the human condition. The work of the the characters adds to the twist of the truth into lies.
on February 16, 2016
I liked the story line. Some of the scenes were a little awkward to watch, but it kept my attention and kept me guessing right up to the end. I originally rented it because I am pretty much a sucker for anything Colin Firth is in and I like mysteries.