Much like fellow Canadian David Cronenberg’s mediocre A History of Violence, writer-director Atom Egoyan’s Where the Truth Lies promises more than it finally delivers. Two of the year’s most evocative and epic titles grace movies that engage in little more than shallow intellectual shadowplay, their attractive surface thrills proving sadly off-putting and, especially in Egoyan’s case, repugnant. After his unjustly underrated Ararat it’s frustrating to see Egoyan stumble and fall so far. In detailing the Bitsey Bloom-ish quest of reporter Karen O’Connor (Alison Lohman) to discover the titular truth behind the breakup of ‘50s comedy team Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) and Vince Collins (Colin Firth), Egoyan revels in the most base misogynist symbolism, paralleling Karen to an innocent Alice in Wonderland fallen down a depressingly porno-chic rabbit hole. As the feisty journalist (who shares with Lanny and Vince a half-remembered childhood connection) unearths more and more evidence about the comics’ untoward behavior with an overeager hotel clerk (Rachel Blanchard), the initially tantalizing duo morph into a corruptive Tweedledee and Tweedledum bent on blackmail and character assassination, and Egoyan makes doubly sure to sledgehammer home his Lewis Carroll metaphors by having a literal (and lesbian) Alice sing Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” while eating out Karen’s Cheshire Cat. Bacon and Firth are clearly up to Egoyan’s adult fairy-tale intentions, their inane, yet ingratiating aristo/prole banter less reminiscent of Martin & Lewis than Rowan & Martin, with the lurid Laurel & Hardy-esque addition of a latent, eventually explicit, homosexual attraction that I’d suggest is the more likely reason for raising the NC-17 ire of the seemingly backdoor-phobic MPAA. Lohman, unfortunately, is way out of her depth, her blank, ingenue-pretty countenance all-too-ably complementing her amateurish line readings, which pile up into expository dead ends that call attention to Egoyan’s contrivance-heavy narrative mechanics and eventually force his flimsy film to collapse under its own pompous import like a mythically shaky house of cards.
- Atom Egoyan
- Atom Egoyan
- Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman, Sonja Bennett, Rachel Blanchard, Kathryn Winslow, Kristin Adams, Maury Chaykin, Arsinée Khanjian, Don McKellar, Gabrielle Rose
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