Where the Truth Lies (2005)
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Here is a movie so delightful, messy, strange, sexy, and all together not quite there; that it makes me glad that films like it are still being made.
Egoyan soaks the film with a shining visual flare, and the characters leap off screen demanding to be fantastic. With such flamboyant settings, people, and actions, casting is absolutely critical. This is where Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth are invaluable and perfect. They are so famous, so flamboyant on their own and so well known that we are drawn into this story right along with Karen. And let's face it, they are all sexuality, with evil and lies boiling just beneath the surface. This is that rare kind of film that does justice to a phrase like that which is usually written on the cover but not delivered in the movie.These men carry their own persona into the film, and deliver just the right amount of insanity and insecurity. Watch Bacon's Lanny yell at a waiter for bringing lobster to the Jewish Lanny. Watch Firth's Vince stumble away from Lanny and Maureen reeling with rejection and sexual confusion. Watch Lanny lean over and kiss Vince's cheek while they perform high. The movie could have been all style and intrigue and little substance; but since Egoyan is directing, the sexual scenes are handled deeply, the drugs are films in full glory, and poignancy creeps in through cracks of the story.
Alison Lohman, who was SO good in the vastly underrated "Matchstick Men" has a good part here as a young journalist still somewhat infatuated with Lanny and Vince's famous duo. For me, her performance is the only one that never really takes off and leaves the screen, but I still went along with her character Karen, and it is not a serious or terribly noticeable flaw, simply a slight mismatching of actress to character; all though perhaps I find Karen a bit weaker and smarter than the other characters and no actress could have changed that.
Some quotes are a bit "bookish" and take us out of the movie for a moment, but even them I found working excellently. Bacon's voice-over in particular drips with confident malevolence. He has a speech on what he sees in Maureen's eyes in a key moment, that at first seems ridiculous and distant, but had me coming back and appreciating it more and more.
Overall, if you like the looks of the film/story/trailer/or even cover, it certainly delivers, and you will love it. The combination of drugs, mystery, lies, murder, fame, bisexuality, more drugs, more sex, and above all, Egoyan's flashy but confident directing, is stunning.
Not perfect, but a wild ride about manipulation, consequences, fame, and sex.
Knowing a little about the plot before seeing the film my big question/concern was "Kevin Bacon"? Going in I just didn't see Bacon in such a roll. But it didn't take long before Egoyan's primary cast selection (including Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, and Alison Lohman) was clearly calculated and well thought.
Some might call this Egoyan's 'most mainstream' work to date, but it retains many of the qualities we've come to expect from him. The screenplay was precisely developed to provide a great pace to the story, and to provide little 'bits and pieces' of key information just when you need them. It doesn't give the truth away too early, yet when the secret is finally revealed it's accompanied by a sense of "I should have seen that coming".
This film does deal with some 'touchy' cinematic subjects including sex and drug use. What should be truly disturbing is the murder in question, but 'simple' murder is accepted in film without a second thought.
The screening I saw was the 'uncut' version of the film. There has apparently been some controversy surrounding some of the films content, so I don't know whether this is the version the movie-going public will eventually see in mass-market theatres. It contained some pretty graphic sex, but it wasn't gratuitous - it served a purpose in the development of the characters and story. These scenes, while clearly not suitable for a younger audience, belong in this film.
An excellent film, as most have come to expect from Egoyan.
I was very entertained. There wasn't a single boring minute in "Where the Truth Lies". I almost believed some newspaper critics' reviews and was prepared to be at least a little bit disappointed either with the actors (critics said were miscast), the sex scenes (critics said were explicit) or the ending. I was sitting there and waiting for a disappointment but it never came. It is a superb murder mystery with at least 3 top notch twists and in the end I was completely satisfied.
In my opinion, (and I know a thing or two about this) the love scene between "Alice" and Alison is one of the most beautiful ones ever performed (on the screen). I mean the (tastefully made) oral sex scene. ("Alice" stops for a moment, looks up at Alison with a trace of a smile ... the moonlight illuminates Alice's slightly wet mouth and chin... she looks down and continues. I haven't seen in any other film a more gorgeous pose than that of Alison during this exercise. Americans can make love as beautifully as Europeans and this film is the only proof so far. It even surpasses the straight love scene with Luisa Ranieri in Antonioni's "Eros"). The film is not about sex, though it is wonderfully choreographed. The most impressive thing here is certainly the story.
(P.S. Critics really did a disservice to us. Some of these same guys, I remember, used unbelievable superlatives while reviewing poor horror movies. One begins to question their motives).
But wait, there's more. It turns out that Egoyan's first foray into a larger, more "industry" piece brings out the best in his sensibilities, and shows that he is a genuine and lasting artist, that is, capable of evolving while remaining true to the vision that made him an international phenomenon (for the acclaimed Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter).
Simply put, the cast is outstanding. The performances Egoyan brings forth are nuanced...one of a kind. In particular, Alison Lohman as Karen O'Conner nails the difficulties of multi-valence like a seasoned vet. She is at once timid, cunning, she surrenders as well as she controls, both Alice and Svengali. I get a very strong Jennifer Jason Leigh 2.0 vibe from her. Jane Greer all the way. She has mad potential, and it is exciting to see early on.
Kevin Bacon's extraordinary gifts of performance reach their zenith in the impossibly charismatic Lanny Morris. His is a tour-de-force performance that rivals Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon, Mitchum in Out of The Past, and Brando in Last Tango. That's my word! He will certainly be nominated for an Academy Award, and unless another actor comes forward with a role of a lifetime, it would be no surprise if he cops the statue, especially considering his recent work in Mystic River, for which he was overlooked.
Colin Firth is a star in his own right, shining brilliantly as Lanny's road dog Vince Collins, perhaps the film's most intriguing, complex character study. Firth gives all of himself and more, and is as courageous as it comes. David Hayman also is creepily adept inna Erich von Stroheim style.
Los Angeles is captured magnificently, as is the world of old school song and dance star power. Think Martin and Lewis even more buck wild than they really were and you'll get a sense of the flavor.
Structurally the narrative is Trump Tight, revealing yet never telling, fulfilling its film noir genre and then making a logical progression upon it. Yes people, it's all here...Lies, Laughs, Loves, Songs, Tears, Selfishness, Generosity, Deceit, Reconciliation, and HOT HOT SEX. Check it! Depending of course upon how it is promoted, this film has the opportunity to do great things for North American Cinema. It can bridge the gap between big box office productions and so-called art house films, entertaining while simultaneously exploring more profound issues. Popular audiences are not stupid, they just need to learn how to see and think and feel again. This is the ambassadorial movie we have been waiting for. I believe that Where The Truth Lies can produce a kind of leap of faith in moviegoers and producers alike, so that there can perhaps be another Golden Era of Hollywood while the millennium is still young.
Where The Truth Lies get 5 Mics from The Source and a Robert Townsend soul clap! Congrats, Maestro Egoyan. I'll have the lobster.
Jonathan Peter Jackson Budapest, Hungary June 2öö5
Then there's the unusual cast that includes Kevin Bacon, Alison Lohman and Colin Firth. Bacon gives an energetic performance as the younger Lanny Morris of the 50s and he brings a 'lost' maturity as the 70's Morris. While a majority have stated Lohman as being miscast, I found her to have the right combination of naivety, sex appeal and vulnerability as Karen. The actress certainly holds her own in the presence of the more accomplished actors and bravely carries the film. Firth is remarkable and he completely sheds his Darcy image and gives a more restrained (and sometimes explosive, where required) performance as Vince Collins. Rachel Blanchard demonstrates the right kind of deceitful innocence and enigma.
Some have stated the sex scenes to be of a 'cold' nature. However, I didn't see it that way. Sexuality is an integral part of the film and it is hinted that each character sees it differently. Bacon's Morris pays a lot of attention to his sexual partner's eyes and after-sex behaviour. I can't reveal much about the other characters without spilling out spoilers but their views differ. There's the frighteningly erotic love scene between Alice and Karen followed by a distraught look on Lohman's face. The last sex-scene was particularly disturbing as this is the scene that brings out their alternative side.
However, the revelation in the end was a bit of a letdown. Not because of the twist which is clever enough but the motivation behind it would have worked better had more background information been provided. Where The Truth Lies' mainly works because of Egoyan's unique presentation and storytelling, the visual flair, the performances, the score and the stunning combination of all the themes ie, sex, drugs, sexuality, murder, fame (sounds a bit clichéd but it is shown differently).
As much as I love the, "oh wait, there is another twist" and the "let's replay this scene for the umpteenth time to see what really happened" plot devices, both are way over-used in this stinker. Save your time and brain cells and watch L.A. Confidential again, or Mullholland Drive.
See Colin Firth give the only sensible performance in the whole film.
See bad acting from every secondary character, including embarrassing turns from Maury Chaykin as a mobster and David Hayman as Reuben, a latently gay, anal-retentive, over-protective psycho valet.
See a dozen truly unpleasant characters populating the confusing landscape, including Maureen, who ends up dead and basically no one really cares about.
See an over-directed mess of story, well there's really no story here but without the multiple time-lines, voice-overs, narrative structures, or other deliberately confusing techniques, people would have figured this out reasonably fast.
See a (very long scene) when Bonnie (Sonja Bennett) reads Lanny's manuscript from L.A. to her friend Karen (Lohman), who's in NY (expensive long distance charges!) then the film visually shows us what she's reading AND we hear Lanny (Bacon)'s voice reading what he wrote. Got that?
See uninspired cinematography of fake looking vintage production values, of different decades, with the 1950s filmed through a misty lens while the current time-line, 1970s, is shot clearly. Brilliant!
See loads of naked chicks, who, remarkably, all look the same, and even more remarkably, the nudity seems misplaced. The fake orgy scene, for example. Talk about gratuitous nudity.
See Kristin Adams dressed up as Alice in Wonderland singing Jefferson Airplane's uber drug anthem "White Rabbit" to a group of sick kids during a pageant!
See a drugged up Alison Lohman have sex with an equally stoned Kristin Adams, who is still dressed up as Alice in Wonderland.
See Alice in Wonderland give cunnilingus to Karen, the Nancy Drew wannabe, her face dripping wet as she moves away from between Karen's legs, while Colin Firth watches on.
Hear voice-overs that are supposed to be evocative but are so wordy, ever-present and clunky that they end up sinking the whole film.
Voice-overs such as: "If I can will my Polio away I'd certainly be able to will away the effect of any drug!" (this being my favorite)
"That moment, it changed my life. I was about to find my way into Lenny's book after he had found such a powerful way into mine" (phew!)
"The. Floor. Plan. Was. Still. The. Same!" (thanks for telling me)
"We were GODS!"
Hear dialogue not even Laurence Olivier could save: "The realization of your life story should not be threatened because of my failings!" Alison says to Colin, who happens to keep a straight face. Does anyone talk like that?
"This is my daughter. This is what I have of her," the old woman says of the tree she's standing in front of.
See lobsters, lobsters, lobsters! Lobsters play a **very** important part of the story. Don't laugh...OK, go ahead and laugh.
See shots of Kevin Bacon undressing Alison Lohman inter-cut with shots of lobsters.
See homophobia as the soon-to-be-dead Maureen blackmails Lanny and Vince after she witnessed Vince trying to penetrate Lanny during a threesome they had with her.
See totally confused direction as we're made to feel sorry for Maureen (that damn tree!) even if her actions as a blackmailer started the whole thing.
See even more homophobia as latently gay, anal-retentive, over-protective psycho valet Reuben (a totally unimportant character) is revealed to be the one who killed Maureen, the wannabe blackmailer no one really cared about.
All of this set to swirling, knowingly kitschy, overdone soundtrack.
See the fires of puberty! OK, maybe not but please see this film. It's a deliriously bad film, not since the likes of SHOWGIRLS!
Which leads to one of the more unpleasant experiences in movie watching, after discovering a great film, you're never able to find anything remotely of the same merit from the directors, actors, etc. involved. Sometimes it's even a terribly foul piece presented for your cinematic palate, such as "Where the Truth Lies". Do you ever watch a movie and it starts to deteriorate until you end up angry for having wasted your time? Or worse, walked in with high expectations only to be slapped in the face with idiotic drivel? This is one of those films. No matter how great a chef is he can't make great cuisine from dog sh+t. It won't even be edible.
Who wrote this contrived, unrealistic crap? It didn't start off bad, there was even an element that was interesting, where the telethon was just a phony scam for the mob to cash in. But it was right about then that the movie rapidly descended into a very stupidly unrealistic place. What is necessary for really good writing is for the writer to do material he/she knows. What is usually an element of really bad writing is when it so obviously is a thinly contrived piece that is about a subject matter the author knows nothing about but naively thinks they can make it up as they go along and it won't be obviously obtuse. And it doesn't even have to the situation or subject matter itself that the writer needs to be an expert on but rather on character, how people act in a specific situation. When your credibility allowance gets strained as you see a character behave in a way you know is childishly unrealistic it's bad enough but when the other supposedly savvy, worldly characters are attracted to her infantile behavior you know you're watching a real turd transforming.
And this female lead, Alison Lohman, is just plain awful. If this is the extent of her acting ability she'd be wise to save every cent of every paycheck because she'll need it all when her fleeting youth and beauty fade. I know Hollywood and its satellites prefer to use pretty young girls as much as possible, even in place of women; but why does it insist on putting them in places where they would have no business in the real world? At least not behaving the way they do in awful films like this one, preening narcissists who haven't the vaguest clue about anything other than their self centered demands. Sure the world likes to look at pretty young women/girls but usually only sexually insecure boys of various ages will consistently tolerate their infantile emotional demands. That is up until they can finally get a taste of their guarded fruits and most will then realize it's hardly worth the price to continue to be the emotional whipping boy of a nasty narcissist.
There are enough really bad and mediocre films (the vast majority actually) out there that I usually try and forget them as quickly as possible, without wasting any time with a comment. The only reason I chose to mention this soon to be forgotten piece is that Mr. Egoyan is capable of vastly much, much better work. I know it's in him, I've seen the results when he excels. He just needs to be patient and use some decently written material. Maybe Russel Banks could offer up one of his fine novels that has yet to be tapped for film. They did a great, nay fantastic adaptation before together. If not, anyone know any way to sneak a decent piece of writing into Hollywood? I hear they have The Bad Writing Patrolmen who usually only allow the worst crap to get through. If you wonder about this just chose just about any film at random to prove my point.
The truth actually lies beneath: Some might interpret this as lack of subtlety or nuance, but, after having thought of this for a couple of hours, I could only come up with the conclusion that this movie is extremely poor in nearly every single way: the script is rather poor, the editing is artificial, misleading and annoying, the acting is extremely poor (at least as far as Alison Lohman is concerned), the music is banal, the costumes and the make up are off.
Indeed, the script is in fact frustratingly simple and should have been the object of a short: a young journalist investigates a crime and unveils the criminal after a couple of interviews. Furthermore, the ending, which reveals why the crime took place, leads to only one conclusion: much ado about nothing.
Secondly, Egoyan has obviously tried to hide the shallowness of the script by over-editing. Indeed, there are numerous flashbacks that obviously aim at making the plot more dense than it really is. In fact, they only make the story more difficult to understand, without making it more appealing.
The truth is that the ending does not surprise anyone, not only because it is not original, but above all because most viewers have lost interest after 40 minutes.
Indeed, they are introduced to a young journalist, Alison Lohman, who is, they are told, a young and unexperienced journalist who is given the task of drafting a one million dollars biography of a TV star. Besides the incongruity of such a situation (why an unexperienced journalist? why so much money for a TV star ? etc.), the extremely poor acting of Alison Lohman makes it difficult for the audience to feel any sympathy: when surprised, she frowns; when upset, she frowns; when aroused, disappointed, sympathizing, sad or happy, she frowns again - and again. Her obvious lack of talent is also exemplified by her off voice that is used all along the movie to explain to the lost audience what Egoyan is aiming at. She tries so hard to sound mysterious that it becomes laughable, especially since the suspense never catches the audience.
She also looks very sexy during the entire movie, for an unexplainable reason: whether at night or noon, whether in the presence of a man or a woman, she is constantly wearing low-cleavage dresses or robes, that are absolutely inappropriate with the situation and which make it even harder to believe. She also insists in typing her article with two inches-long nails which are, as everybody knows, the distinctive sign of a journalist.
Furthermore, during the entire movie, a very loud music, apparently composed exclusively for violins, attempts to increase the non-existing suspense. In fact, it is just plainly annoying.
Overall, the entire movie is extremely tacky, and the only reason for watching it would be the anatomy of Alison Lohman. But that is hardly enough to make a suitable non-pornographic movie.
I have been reading reviews and posts about this movie for the last few weeks, and all I kept hearing was "wow it is very graphic", and "MPAA, and NC-17" blah blah blah.
So, last night I finally got the opportunity to form my own opinion. The one that was formed is, I love it. The acting is great, the story flows very well, back an forth, from the past to the present. I never felt too lost or confused. It all tied in by the end of the movie and wrapped up nicely.
I kept waiting for a big controversial scene??? And it never came. There was some explicit sex,but nothing outrageous. It only added to the story, and the general look and feel of the movie. It made the movie sexier, and more intriguing.
Bottom Line-See the movie, it is worth the watch.
I was really intrigued by all the press this film had received concerning the rating, mystery and time shift in storytelling. I figured there was no way for it to be bad with Bacon and Firth's involvement. I was wrong.
Unfortunately this flick fell very flat. The sexual scenes were awkward and cold, not a spark of passion in any of them. Really a pity too as Kevin and Colin both have demonstrated a talent for conveying pure sensuality in other roles. The "intrigue" was predictable and too drawn out. There was very little true noir. In point of fact the tweaked, diffused bright white flashback scenes were distracting from the narrative. The acting wasn't horrible but it wasn't Oscar worthy either. The musical score was like a bad cliché-- contrived and unoriginal.
Overall I feel this movie is extremely pretentious and held in too high regard. Ultimately I found none of the characters likable nor even sympathetic and that might be the greatest fault. If you don't really care whodunit, then how is a whodunit supposed to resonate?
You know the one thing I *did* like? The costumes. Costuming did a superb job in both decades of clothing. It's perhaps the only thing this film really nailed.
I don't exactly want my money back but I don't think it's worth a second viewing either.
I walked in as a complete virgin to the whole project, not having read the book nor script. Yet, I found the movie to be quite shocking, surprising and the look was very intact to the period. Most people despise seeing this, having judged by the trailer that this movie is strictly about sex, and so did I at one point. What convinced me to see this is the enormous talent displayed by the 3 leads and director Atom Egoyan. Alison Lohman (Matchstick Men) plays Karen O'Connor, an ambitious young journalist and big fan of Lanny Morris and Vince Collins. Alison Lohman's performance is a tour-de-force, combining elements of naiveness, ambition and sexuality wrapped inside an enigma. She's smart, and wants to do the right thing, even though it's working against two people who she truly adores. Kevin Bacon (The Woodsman) gives a very strong performance as Lanny Morris, 1/2 of a comedy duo and insecure person off cameras and shows. Colin Firth (Love Actually)plays Vince Collins, the refined, smooth other 1/2 of a comedy duo. He combines elements of hysteria and refinement in one person.
With all that being said, the movie itself is a good movie, yet its very strange and intensely fascinating. Its also a highly stylized film, and it felt like all 3 stars aren't giving good performances ( even though they are ). I figured it was a part of the style and feel of the film ( which is 1940's film noir, not pornography ).
The controversial scene ( menage-a-trois ) is not as graphic as most people thought it would be, yet I was first shocked that this movie had originally been given an NC-17 rating. Yes, the sex scenes still surpass R rating boundaries, but I've seen R rated movies with sex scenes that are just as intense.
Also featured in this film is a very clever, yet poignant ending that kept me guessing. 8/10.
The three generate an excellent, unselfconscious chemistry, shown in their scenes together. As a reply to other comments: This film is about as pornographic as American Beauty: I think the director handles these scenes with care -- they are not overly explicit, or graphic, and accomplish enough to make us realise the attraction between the three characters.
The ending, the denouement, is in keeping with the style of film noir. Granted, the story isn't always plausible, but this is a film which calls for some suspension of (dis)belief.
It's a film noir in colour, and extremes. See it!
There has been a lot of talk about whether or not Alison Lohman was right for the central role she plays in this film. In my opinion, she's not quite believable. She comes across as a bit too naive, while I believe that her character is intended to be quite wily. There's no such problems with Rachel Blanchard, who does a terrific job with a much smaller, but also key role. Still, Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon really rescue this one with their portrayal of a comedy duo gone wrong. Bacon is especially effective at capturing the swagger and confidence of a showman, with all of the benefits it brings.
Let me also say a quick word or two about the sex in this film, since there has been a ratings controversy. I found the sex to be quite mild in comparison to some of the sex in Cronenberg's History of Violence. That said, I'm not sure that the NC-17 rating in the US will really hurt the film all that much, since I don't think anybody would ever pretend that this is a film for minors anyhow.
On the whole, has some obvious flaws, but it's definitely worth the price of admission.
Fans of Atom Egoyan's work will relish the chance to see him in action again, but it is Egoyan himself, as both scriptwriter and director, who ruins what could have been an intelligent whodunnit.
It is worth going into the plot to explain exactly why it doesn't work.
Alison Lohman plays a former polio sufferer and journalist who, years after she appeared on a telethon featuring a pair of variety stars, decides to write a book about what they are really like. The big draw is that the pair, played by Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon, split shortly after the show when the body of a girl was found in their hotel room. The crime was never solved.
Colin Firth, the straight half of the variety partnership, agrees to cooperate, but Kevin Bacon declines because he is writing his own book to be released after their deaths.
Despite Bacon's reluctance - and this is important - Bacon's representatives allow Lohman to read several chapters of Bacon's book to show her that her work would be rubbish by comparison. They do what? What publisher, in the real world, would attempt to dissuade a rival by sharing information?
This is the first of a string of implausible plot developments that gnaw at the viewer's will to suspend disbelief and, in my case, consume it completely.
Other elements - confrontations between Lohman, Bacon and Firth and an all-too-convenient tape recording - fail to ring true. Although the denouement is rather poignant, the drama has long since become preposterous. I was still chortling to myself because of a previous scene in which a character does an unwitting impression of Hannibal Lecter. And what on earth is going on when a children's hospital hosts a production of Alice in Wonderland with a woman singing a trippy version of Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit?
The acting isn't bad - indeed Firth and Bacon are rather good - but it fails to make an unlikely script appear anything but contrived and, occasionally, unintentionally funny.
It doesn't help that the film is told in a confusing series of flashbacks, some of which didn't happen at all. Egoyan attempts to overcome the confusion by adding lots of explanatory voice-overs, but this also acts as a reminder that the images do not do the talking.
And what of the supposedly controversial scenes that earned the film such a high rating from the censors? Well, there's graphic violence, drug taking and, without wanting to spoil anything, sex scenes that wouldn't appear in a standard Hollywood film. But, really, so what? The controversy is a red herring. The film doesn't work, and it is Egoyan who is to blame.
Bacon and Firth play the fictional team of Lanny Morris and Vince Collins who are national sensations thanks to their mob-run nightclub and telethon act. Think Martin and Lewis knee-slapping live comedy. Of course, with their fame comes drugs, sex (lots of it) and the always present dark emotional problems. At their peak, their world is rocked when a dead girl is found in their hotel room. Years later, Lohman's character enters as a journalist out to write a story on the truth behind the comedy team and especially that night in the hotel. What she finds out about the performers and herself is the juicy fun part of the movie.
Egoyan brilliantly mixes in the nightclub act of their wonder years, with the agony of the 70's as both Lanny and Vince try to find meaning in their lives. So many nice story elements that I assume most are from the Rupert Holmes novel upon which this is based. As for the film, it is all Egoyan and brilliant acting.
The best way I can think of to describe the film is that it has the feel of the great 40's noir, only it is updated and in color with a heart-pounding score. Remarkably, the murder mystery is almost reduced to an afterthought. I will not discuss the story anymore, other than to say it is creative, thought-provoking with a stunning performance by Kevin Bacon and very strong leads from Firth and Lohman.
So I start with a 10 for interesting story and great performances from Firth and Bacon. Bacon clearly has the showier role, and the script mostly revolves around Lanny and how people relate to him. He commits himself to it totally and gives you a revealing performance of this "out there" character, warts and all. You see Lanny for what he is, both the public and private persona. It is a pitch perfect performance. Colin Firth handles the more complex character of Vince with his usual ability to reveal everything and nothing at the same time. His character is more veiled and enigmatic, not so clearly scripted (which works in the movie) and leaves you with questions as much as answers by the film's end. He delivers it with truthfulness and without gimmickry or sleight of hand. One of the thing's I've always liked about him as an actor is once you've seen a movie and know the ending, you can re-watch it and see an even more layered performance than you first realized because his character was fully there from scene one. The mystery, though not what I'd call suspenseful, did serve as a useful and involving vehicle in an interesting character drama. Then I start to subtract.
The film started off a little slow and it took me a while to establish an interest in what really happened to the dead girl, beyond what I'd picked up from the trailer. And Alison Lohman was just bad, I couldn't buy into her character at all. She was supposed to be the engine that drives to the solution of the murder and why these guys broke up, pushing them to reveal secrets they've held onto for 15 years. Not only did she need to be tougher and much smarter and more driven, her acting was way off the mark. Her lines in a scene might read "I'm a tough cookie" but there was nothing in her performance that supported it, before, after or during the scene. She was supposed to be someone who you'd pay a million dollars to for a hard-hitting expose because you believed she could get at the truth. Instead she comes across as the girl from Kansas who just fell off the turnip truck looking for a big break. She's out of her depth, exacerbated by being blown off the screen by her co-stars. I never believed she could stand up to Vince the way she has to in order to make the plot evolve, or hold Lanny's interest as a sexual liaison or an adversary. She added nothing and I think reduced the impact of the mystery's resolution.(Though I agree with an earlier review that Rachel Blanchard was a surprise as the girl killed in the hotel room. She was good.)
My last nit..the music was often wrong. I'm not usually so aware of the music in a film, but in this one it was distracting at times, way over the top.
So this is a film that "coulda been a contender" along the lines of LA Confidential. Close but no cigar. If this were meant to be a break out film of sorts for Egoyan, I don't think he completely managed it. I do think it is worth the price of admission though, and is better than most of the films I've seen this year. I don't mean to undersell the film and its strengths make up for the weaknesses. So if character dramas are your thing, see it for an interesting dynamic and two stand-out performances in an involving plot. See it with friends who love thought provoking movies, probably not right as first date fare.