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A young woman in Paris is about to divorce her husband when she discovers... he's dead; and all their money is gone. She meets a mysterious man, who tells her that the money was really his, and he wants it back, seemingly convinced that she's hiding the cash. Meanwhile, more people end up dead... Written by
The part of Joshua Peters was originally intended for Will Smith, but due to extended production on Ali (2001) he was unable to meet start of filming on Charlie, so Demme had to move forward with Mark Wahlberg instead, losing the Thandie Newton/Will Smith "double-act" he had imagined watching the original movie Charade (1963). See more »
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I really wanted to like this movie. Jonathan Demme is one of my favorite film makers and I thought if anyone could remake one of my favorite movies of all time, Demme could. Demme couldn't.
Newton and Robbins are ok, Wahlberg doesn't work at all, and the other "evil" characters who were so memorable in Charade come across as interchangeable cyphers.
I usually like Demme's music selection, but here there didn't seem to be any sort of unifying theme behind his music. And, it certainly wasn't Mancini's wonderful score.
But the biggest Truth about Charlie is that Demme's rewrite is simply awful.
In the original, Charlie is a nobody and so he doesn't get in the way of all the other characters. Here he has a face and is, apparently, the big villain, so we have to be treated to a slew of foggy flashbacks that halt the flow of the story.
Newton and Wahlberg lip-lock so early, there's absolutely none of the playful sexual tension of the original. And, instead of Grant's cocky, end-of-the-film surprise, we get a bathetic Wahlberg begging Newton to forgive him. Bleacch.
The reworking of the story that sets everything in motion is so muddled I'm still not sure just exactly what was happening and why.
And the final big thing missing is the element of wonderful surprise Donen crafted so well. In the original Grant's multiple characters are peeled back with delicious surprise at each new revelation ending with the final, perfect surprise at the end of the film. And the moment when the original film reveals the big secret is still thrilling, even after watching it a dozen times. In Charlie, the big secret becomes a tiny flicker of something in Newton's eyes and when it is finally revealed, it's a moment that the word "anticlimax" was designed for.
It's such a shame that Demme made such a muddle of something that originally was so clean and clearly presented. As so many others have done, I strongly recommend you skip this one and just go back to the original.
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