A few years ago, the classic Audrey Hepburn film, Sabrina, was remade into an OK film called Sabrina. Now, another Hepburn film, Charade, has been remade as a pretty good film, The Truth About Charlie. It is beyond me why anyone would want to remake an Audrey Hepburn movie. And Charade isn't just an Audrey Hepburn movie. It also stars Cary Grant, Walter Matthau, James Coburn and George Kennedy. After going to see The Truth About Charlie, I rented Charade and it was pretty wonderful. Hepburn and Grant are great together. The amazing thing is just how similar the old and new versions of this film are. It was fun to watch them back to back. The Truth About Charlie tells the story of a woman (Thandie Newton in the Hepburn role) contemplating a divorce from her husband, Charlie, who conveniently turns up dead. Before being killed, he liquidated all their assets. And it gets worse for Newton. A bunch of unsavory characters start showing up looking for a lot of money that Charlie owes them. One man (Mark Wahlberg in the Grant role) comes to the rescue offering to help Newton. But he has secrets also. There are also visits from the Paris police and the American Embassy (Tim Robbins in the Matthau role). The plot has many twists and turns, and I won't give away more of it here. I will just say that once you have seen either Charade or The Truth About Charlie, there are no surprises left when you watch the other.
All the actors in both versions are great although James Coburn's over-the-top cowboy is a bit much. George Kennedy is the definitive one-armed man. I'd like to mention the actors playing the Paris police, Christine Boisson in the new film and Jacques Marin in Charade . They are both really great. The cast of the new movie doesn't seem weighed down by the roles they are reprising. Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible: II, Beloved) is definitely channeling Audrey Hepburn in the new film. The surprising thing is how 21st century Hepburn's character was in the 1963 film. Moviegoers must have been shocked at the way Hepburn went after Grant but when Newton does the same thing with Wahlberg, it's no big deal. This is definitely the best role I've seen Wahlberg play. He is usually a bit too low key in his performances but here he is very active and bright. Tim Robbins is excellent and smartly doesn't try to channel Walter Matthau.
It would be easy to just say,
go rent Charade and
you should, but The Truth About Charlie stands on its own.
It is a bit lighter than Charade
and it moves along at a nice pace. The director Jonthan Demme (Silence
of the Lambs, Philadelphia)
really knows what he is doing and has a nice sense of humor in his directing.
It's too bad that The Truth About Charlie has already sunk without
a trace only two weeks after it opened. Try and see it if it's still on
a screen near you. Oh and rent Charade