A review of “Where the Truth Lies” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: * 1/2

Rating: Unrated but should be NC-17 for frontal nudity and graphic sexuality

Run Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

 

 

Director Atom Egoyan is highly respected in the film business, known for such scintillating works as “Exotica” and “The Sweet Hereafter”. This 1950s murder mystery, loosely based on the unwholesome escapades of Lewis and Martin, is a seamy valentine to celebrity.

Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) and Vince Collins (Colin Firth) are national treasures, beloved entertainers at the top of their game. But what goes up must come down.

When a dead beauty is found floating face-up in their hotel suite bathroom Lanny and Vince’s rep takes a hit but they are absolved of the crime. Yet the open and shut case draws unwanted attention to their after-hours activities and destroys their famous partnership. The heat is too much to handle and the two part ways for good.

Fifteen years later an upstart writer (Alison Lohman as Karen O’Connor) attempts to revive the cold case into a steamy best-seller. She contacts the pair through duplicitous means and proceeds to dig into pasts better left buried.

Sounds good on paper considering that its source material – Rupert Holmes’ novel of the same name – is chalk full of treachery, lust and betrayal. All accounted for in a sleazy cinematic labyrinth of lewd and crude interludes. Ugh.

Egoyan should know better. Though noirishly compelling “Truth” has a soft-porn hue that sculpts its narrative into a sordid rainbow of slimy emotion.

Bacon can handle the heat. He worms his way into Lanny’s lounge-lizard mentality with greasy, serpentine sinuousness. Firth is poorly miscast as the confused and mildly psychopathic partner who steps out of the box and can’t get back in. Lohman is in way over her head, a mediocre ingénue who doesn’t have the chops to master Egoyan’s vision of lurid scandal.

Period sets look great and Egoyan seems confident in his direction and trajectory straight to the black heart of fame. Despite the onscreen bravura I desperately needed a shower when the lights came up on this squalid piece of shlock.