Adult movies. There - got your attention already, but it's not without reason. What defines an adult movie? Most commonly the usage is for a skin flick, pornography or, to be even blunter, it's normally a movie where there is no real plot and the cast fornicate like bunnies. But, to a lesser degree, it can reflect a movie where there may indeed be sex but it is treated in an adult way. We're not discussing Basic Instinct here, but the term definitely applies to Where The Truth Lies.
Lanny Morris (Bacon) and Vince Collins (Firth) are a comedy double act - Lanny is the comedian, Vince is the straight man. They are at the top of the mountain, so to speak, when one day, a woman is found dead in their hotel suite, which although they have airtight alibis, the partnership dissolves due to the scandal. Fast forward 15 years when journalist Karen O'Connor (Lohman) is researching a book regarding the comedy duo and most importantly the scandal, to ultimately uncover the truth behind this mysterious incident.
To actually discuss the movie beyond this synopsis would severely detract from the viewing experience, as this is indeed an excellent thriller that reveals its labyrinthine plot at just the right pace and rarely lets you get ahead of the twists. Now, saying that sounds very clichéd, but I didn't guess the outcome directly, nor the reasons as to why it happened - which is always a good sign of a thriller. How many can you say that about? Se7en, yes. Identity, no - I twigged the killer the first time they appeared on screen, if that gives you an idea of how good this twist is.
So, why do I mention the Adult movie at the beginning? Well, as you may have guessed, this unrated edition features drug use, nudity, several sex scenes and sex is also mentioned sporadically. It isn't gratuitous, but it is handled generally well - it's not shocking, nor as explicit as a porn movie, but it is more honest than say the aforementioned Basic Instinct. In fact, the MPAA rated the movie NC-17, which didn't sit well with the director, so he made various cuts throughout the movie, including an orgy scene, but the attempt to reduce the rating failed, so it was released without the cuts anyway. So, for some people, that's an automatic glowing reference and they'll have stopped reading, but stick around folks as there's more to discuss.
This is a movie that requires your attention - it's not a movie you can just put on in the background, neither is it one you won't get involved in - it practically begs you to try and deduce the events of that night and to guess the who & why behind the death. The story is told through one person, but with three voices as such. Morris and Collins, as well as other peripheral characters, relay their stories to O'Connor, which while we discover these events with her and through her, we hear them being narrated by the source, which is so that we know whose side of the story we are getting, but all the while we're learning everything at the same time as O'Connor. The narration is told with flashbacks to the time concerned, so we can see the sequence of events, or at least the events being described by the individuals concerned. Some movies can get away with flashbacks, others can't, but thankfully this is one that can - it is actually a necessity when one watched the movie the second time around. For example, when Lanny whispers something to O'Connor during the night of the telethon, we don't know what is said until the very, very end (it's the last line of the movie). We think we know what it is at the time, because of the context we see it in, but when we know the whole story, we realise exactly why it was said.
The movie has a superb cast - Kevin Bacon on top form with his portrayal of Morris, on stage being the comedian and behind the scenes, a womanising but quite calculating and serious individual, which gives the character plenty of depth. If your only point of reference for Colin Firth is from Bridget Jones, you'll be in for a shock here as his character of Vince Collins is truly a polar opposite. On stage, he is the quintessential Englishman, but off stage, we see him popping drugs, his moments of focussed violence and at times, very creepy and scary. Alison Lohman, whom I remember only from Matchstick Men, works exceedingly well as a semi naïve, yet inquisitive journalist. We empathise with here character who has links to the duo, from being her childhood idols and soon realises that things aren't as wonderful as they seemed when the limelight shone on them. The supporting characters may not be as well known (Rachel Blanchard - last seen in “Without A Paddle” for example), but they certainly don't detract from the overall performances. Of course, it's really a 3 horse race and personally, I don't think either performance eclipses another, although with Firth definitely playing against type with regard to his other roles (Bridget Jones, Importance of being Earnest), it's arguably his turn that will stand out more, for the Alice in Wonderland scene if nothing else.
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