Review: Where the Truth Lies (2005)


Director: Atom Egoyan | 103 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman, David Hayman, Rachel Blanchard, Maury Chaykin, Sonja Bennett, Kristin Adams, Deborah Grover, Beau Starr, Arsinée Khanjian, Gabrielle Rose, Don McKellar, David Hemblen, John Moraitis

After a number of years of relative silence, Atom Egoyan has released an ambitious thriller cum film noir. We are certainly curious, because would the creator of fairytale psychodramas such as “The Sweet Hereafter” and “Felicia’s Journey” be able to make a public film while retaining his own style? After ‘Where the Truth Lies’ we still have to leave that question unanswered. Egoyan’s talent and sense of atmosphere are omnipresent, but what he wants with this film is not clear.

First of all, there is the cast. With Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth, Egoyan has solid actors in house: no top stars, but a guarantee of quality; however, the young Alison Lohman (“Big Fish”) – although an appealing appearance – lacks the top talent of a Naomi Watts to carry a layered film similar to “Mulholland Drive”. And with that, the name of David Lynch is already on our lips, because it is his work that can serve as a point of reference in “Where the Truth Lies”: mystery is piled on mystery in the plot of this film. Karen switches her identity with that of her best friend Bonnie in order to play Vince and Lanny off against each other. She even enters into intimate relationships with them to get to their deepest motivations. Nice bonus: she is a fan of the comedy duo, so the sex is a bonus and besides: the murdered (?) Maureen was also a fan and journalist; that creates a bond.

Interesting are the tricks Vince and Lanny perform to mislead Karen, but Egoyan fails to connect the wires properly and at the right time. On the one hand, he follows Lynch’s Escher-like plot constructions and gets quite far with that; on the other hand, he uses Karen / Bonnie’s behavior to get his enticing actors and actresses undressed – for example, we are served a trio twice. Does Karen want to solve a murder or just sleep with her childhood idols? Both of course: sex, lies and audio tape …

The dramatic deficit would have resulted in an outright b-movie had Egoyan been abandoned by his cinematic talents and his actors. Bacon and Firth, however, continue to believe in the story and their roles; Egoyan’s visual style – note the facial expressions studied – and the superior score make it an entertaining sit nonetheless. However, almost hit is still wrong where Egoyan is concerned and with this film he does himself and us a bit short.

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