Where the Truth Lies


Atom Egoyan's "Where the Truth Lies" (available February 28th from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) should be a lot better than it is.

It's got a hell of a story, courtesy of Rupert Holmes' novel about a Martin-and-Lewis-like comedy act forever tainted by the discovery of a dead girl in the partners' hotel suite, and the journalist investigating the story 15 years later.

And it's got a hell of a cast -- Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon as the secretive entertainers, Rachel Blanchard as the dead girl, and the amazing Alison Lohman -- who co-starred with Michelle Pfeiffer in "White Oleander" -- as the writer trying to pick apart the tissue of lies surrounding the girl's death.

Firth and Bacon are perfectly cast; they're totally credible as slap-happy club headliners in 1958, and they manage to pass as seedier versions of themselves in 1973. (Firth even manages to wear the worst of the period's fashions with something approaching dignity.) Lohman, on the other hand, struggles mightily with her inconsistently written character -- she's not only required to act illogically on several occasions, but she's burdened with some of the clunkiest dialogue Egoyan has ever written.

Of course, it's not as if anyone could have made that role click; Lohman's character is really just a device to move back and forth through the story, and allow Egoyan to indulge in his increasingly pointless fractured-narrative gimmick. Worse, the director's intellectual condescension and terrible sense of pacing lead him to reveal two key plot points far too soon, torpedoing any suspense or drama that might have been created.

You have to ask yourself: Why should anyone be surprised by the final scenes, when we've already been told precisely what will happen? The story might not be told as a conventional mystery, but neither should it play out like a foregone conclusion.

Sony is offering two different versions of the film on DVD, both in enhanced widescreen. One features the unrated theatrical release, while the other is a slightly trimmed, R-rated, Blockbuster-safe edition. (The difference amounts to a few seconds of a crucial love scene.)

Both discs offer an identically paltry set of supplements: A handful of deleted scenes offers various extensions and diversions, as well as a deleted subplot -- sort of -- while "The Making of Where the Truth Lies" turns out to be five minutes of B-roll footage thrown together more or less at random ... although viewers who wondered how Rachel Blanchard made such a convincing frozen corpse will find a fascinating answer.

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