The Truth About Charlie (2002)

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Released 1-Sep-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 99:43
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:13) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jonathan Demme
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Thandie Newton
Mark Wahlberg
Tim Robbins
Joong-Hoon Park
Ted Levine
Lisa Gay Hamilton
Christine Boisson
Stephen Dillane
Simon Abkarian
Frederique Meininger
Charles Aznavour
Anna Karina
Magalie Noel
Case ?
RPI Box Music Rachel Portman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
German
Czech
Greek
Hungarian
Polish
English Titling
French Titling
German Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, we see what happened to some of the characters

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It's a brave team that remakes a classic film. This is a remake of Charade, with Mark Wahlberg taking Cary Grant's part, Thandie Newton for Audrey Hepburn, and Tim Robbins for Walter Matthau. Interesting casting choices. Not bad ones, though. Audrey Hepburn was stunningly beautiful (although less so in Charade than in other films), but Thandie Newton is equally beautiful. Tim Robbins is an excellent actor, just as good as Walter Matthau. I wouldn't class Mark Wahlberg as being as impressive a leading man as Cary Grant, but he does a very good job of this role.

    This film begins with some gratuitous nudity, perhaps intended to point out that Charles Lambert (Stephen Dillane) isn't faithful to his wife (or perhaps because the original couldn't include such things!), thus making Regina seem more justified in wanting to divorce him. He's rather drastically punished for this transgression, though.

    Next we have an apparently chance meeting between Regina Lambert (Thandie Newton) and Joshua Peters (Mark Wahlberg) while she's on holiday. She returns home to discover her apartment gutted, and bumps into a policeperson, Commandant Jeanne Dominique (Christine Boisson), who explains that Charles is dead. The Commandant asks a lot of questions, and reveals that Regina knew far less about him than she thought she did — perhaps most shocking was the four passports, in four names, that he was carrying. She returns to the apartment, and is surprised when Joshua Peters turns up — he explains that he heard about the death on TV. A message under her hotel room door that evening summons her to a meeting with Lewis Bartholomew (Tim Robbins), who shows her a photo of four people in army uniforms: one is Charlie Lake (the name by which she knew her husband), the other three are Il-Sang Lee (Joong-Hoon Park), Lola Jansco (Lisa Gay Hamilton), and Emil Zadopec (Ted Levine). Apparently these four were on a mission with a large sum of US government money ($6 million), and the money went missing. Bartholomew is convinced that Charlie betrayed the others, taking the money for himself. He's also convinced that Regina will be their target, because she is their only hope of getting the money. No one knows where the money is, but everyone thinks that Regina is the only one who can find it. It isn't long before Regina is warned not to trust Joshua Peters, but under the name Dyle (strange, because Bartholomew tells her that Dyle is dead) — she tricks him and discovers that he is Dyle.

    There are layers upon layers of secrecy, lies, and deceit. Who can Regina trust? Peters / Dyle? Bartholomew? The policewoman? No-one?

    This is a rather good thriller, told well. Sure, it's a remake of Charade, with some early scenes lifted almost word-for-word from the original, but there are enough differences (particularly as the film winds on) to make it interesting. There are some aspects where I consider the remake superior to the original — for example, I think the artificial hand they stuck on George Kennedy in the original was an unnecessary affectation (he is plenty menacing enough without it). The interplay between Regina and the policewoman is good. The tango sequence provides some interesting insights. I even liked the climax to this version a little more than the original. I'm just not convinced about the old woman. And why did they bother to change the name from Lampert (in Charade) to Lambert (here)? And from Peter Joshua to Joshua Peters?

    They have confidence in this film. They know you will inevitably compare it with Charade, so they make it easy, putting a copy of Charade in the same case. I like that.

    Even if you usually don't like remakes, I recommend giving this one a chance. And if you decide that you prefer the original, well, heck, you get a copy of that as well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. That's the original aspect ratio, which is always a good thing.

    The picture is sharp and detailed. Shadow detail is rather good in all but the darkest scenes (the tango scene). There is no low level noise. Film grain is never an issue.

    Colour is excellently rendered, and is very realistic. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts in the film proper — the film was only made last year — but there are some in scenes in the credits, which seems odd.

    There is more than a little aliasing, but I didn't find it troubling. There are occasional moments of moiré, with the worst and most obvious being at 28:12 on a roller door, although there are other instances on the more usual culprits, like a finely checked overcoat. I was only bothered by the roller door. There are no MPEG artefacts, not even a trace of background shimmer.

    There are subtitles in several languages, including English. I watched the English subtitles — they are close to word-for-word, well-timed, and easy to read. There is an extra subtitle stream that translates the French dialogue into English when you're watching the English soundtrack (there are similar tracks for French and German).

    The disc is single sided, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 54:13, and it's quite good on one player I tried, but involved a fairly long pause on another player — not the greatest layer change you've ever seen.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtracks is provided in English, French, and German, all Dolby Digital 5.1. I only listened to the English version.

    Dialogue is clear and readily comprehended, providing you understand both English and French (there's a default subtitle stream for the bits of French dialogue). Audio sync is no problem.

    Rachel Portman's score is rather good, blending musical styles from a variety of countries (there's even one section scored for didgeridoo). It was a little surprising to see Charles Aznavour singing in the denouement, but it was a nice touch.

    The surrounds are used sparingly, but effectively — this is mostly a frontal soundtrack, not a surround extravaganza.

    The subwoofer doesn't star, either, but it does get occasional use. It really isn't needed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras. Well, none except a copy of Charade, the film on which this one is based. That's quite a decent extra.

Menu

    The menu is animated with music. It's simple, but has an interesting presentation of the film's title: The Truth About Charlie. Cute.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 disc is also presented in a double case with Charade. But the Region 1 disc gets extras...

    The Region 4 retail disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    That's a whole lot of extras, and a dts soundtrack. Reports have it that the R1 transfer is very good, too. I have to award the gold-plated peanut to the R1 because of the extra features, even though I strongly prefer having separate discs for the two movies — I bought the Region 4 version for my own collection.

Summary

    That rare animal, a good remake, presented well on DVD.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are completely absent (unlike the R1), except for having the disc accompanied by the original film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, October 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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