Where the Truth Lies

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Where the Truth Lies
Review (7/10)
(By Ron Henriques)

Dark Side Of Fifties Showbiz

Filmmaker Atom Egoyan seems to have followed in the footsteps of fellow Canadian David Cronenberg and stumbled with a mainstream assignment in ?Where The Truth Lies?, an adaptation of the novel by Rupert Holmes. Though the film is filled with rich and edgy performances by Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth as a blue humored ?Martin and Lewis? comedy team, it never reaches its full potential. The film gained a bit of publicity a few weeks back when producers tangoed with the MPAA over an NC-17 rating ? awarded over an onscreen m?nage a trois that is anything but tame. But a little publicity may be what a small film like this needs, because despite its faults it remains an evocative and entertaining tale of the dark side of showbiz.

Bacon and Firth star as Lanny Morris and Vince Collins, an inseparable comic duo that became legends in the late 1950's. At the top of their game in 1957, the nude body of a beautiful blonde hotel employee (Rachel Blanchard) was found floating in their bathtub and the resulting scandal extinguished their careers. Fifteen years later, young writer Karen O'Connor (Alison Lohman) convinces her publisher to pay Vince for the rights to pen his biography. She first encountered Vince and Lanny fifteen years earlier when she appeared as a miracle child on their popular polio telethon and has been infatuated with them ever since. As the reserved gentleman half of the duo, Vince has retired to private life and has only agreed to the book deal to continue his expensive lifestyle

The wild and womanizing Lanny on the other hand doesn't like reporters and wants his infamous exploits to be forgotten. By chance, Karen encounters Lanny on a first class flight to New York and by keeping her identity secret she gets a glimpse of his inner circle. Their encounter ends in a one night stand that reveals Lenny for the womanizer he is, but Karen finds herself even more intrigued. She seeks to expose the reason behind the mysterious split between Vince and Lanny and what really happened the night that body turned up in their hotel room with a tell-all book. Through the use of flashbacks, various narrators and shifting points of view, Egoyan weaves his story and slowly brings us into the dark realm that existed behind the glitzy curtains. As Karen's glimpse of Vince and Lenny's world gets clearer and clearer she not only finds herself seduced by it, but at its center.

?Where the Truth Lies? fails as a mystery-thriller, but the heart of the film is the chemistry between Bacon and Firth. Not only have they captured the essence of comic duos like ?Martin and Lewis? but the off-camera struggles of their characters are completely believable. How they cope with working all-night gigs by taking speed, recharge with nightly group orgies and deal with mobsters (Maury Chaykin) who want to muscle in on their action, is much like the behind the scenes rumors we've heard of. Though she resembles actresses of the period, as an investigating reporter, Alison Lohman appears to be channeling Brenda Starr instead of Louella Parsons. Although her character's journey is an interesting one, it eventually becomes a little far-fetched and Lohman soon appears out of her element.

Egoyan stretches the credibility of the journey even further by directly comparing it to ?Alice in Wonderland? ? even going as far as having Lohman tricked into a drug induced sexual experience with a young female costumed as ?Alice?. Although Lohman has played the corruptible ing?nue before, I don't feel she's been miscast, but rather given a poorly written role. Her adolescent face does lend credibility to the flashback sequences where she appears as a young child, but as a reporter who has just got a book deal, she doesn't look her twenty-six years and appears more like a writer for a High School paper. She should be commended for exposing herself in several sex scenes, but she fails with her Chandler-esque narration. Then again, the story gets so convoluted and drab that eventually we don't care where it's going.

Despite the various twists and turns within the story and the annoying pulp narration, ?Where the Truth Lies? does entertain with its top notch performances by Bacon and Firth and its realistic glimpse into the shady underworld of fifties showbiz that we rarely heard about. I just expected more from Egoyan who is know for telling provocative and even disturbing stories that never fail with their dramatic impact. Even though the big secret within the story fails to live up to its potential, the journey is much more intriguing that the destination.

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