This is a remake of an older movie with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Jonathan Demme is mostly responsible for this rewrite. Regina (Thandie Newton) is a new bride that is unhappy in her marriage to Charlie. Charlie is killed on a train. The investigation begins to unravel many layers of deception. Regina falls for a mysterious man, Joshua (Mark Wahlberg), and gets caught up in a confusing search for a fortune. The fortune belonged to Charlie and he hid it from his friends, enemies, and Regina. There are other parties involved including Tim Robbins and the French police.
Demme's work is interesting. So much of this film looks like it was shot with a steadycam
This allows the cinematographer to follow our actors very closely and in tight corners. There are very few set up shots (most look like they are done in a car). It's the heavy use of steadycam that set up the most interesting visual premise of the film. By following the actors, Demme mixes the camera and the actor's POV frequently. From the actor's POV, we are shown the faces of many people. The swirling motion and frequency of crowds delivers a mood of distrust. There are many people that we see in this movie and as the viewer we are never sure if the character is simply an extra or may be involved in the story later. It adds some tension for the film, but there is nothing to build on this foundation.
Wahlberg delivers a really bad performance as a pseudo intellectual, cosmopolitan spy. Thandie Newton is cleverly coy, but that doesn't help in the movie. The original movie was quite simple and Demme spends a lot of time trying to make this version complex. The excess of material should be trimmed.
Demme is usually deft with his soundtracks. This one is disjointed (so I guess it matches the story better). There is a great scene using a classic Feelies song and you even get a small snippet of Sparklehorse (a great band).
The DVD comes with the original Charade movie and it's worth watching that movie.
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