Where the Truth Lies
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 107 min
Serendipity Point Films
In 1957, the careers of America’s most popular comedy duo, Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) and Vince Collins (Colin Firth), are forever tarnished when the dead body of a naked young woman is found in their hotel room. Though Morris and Collins are never convicted of the murder, the scandal sends them on their separate ways, to salvage whatever they can of their reputations. Flash forward to 1972, when ambitious young journalist Karen O’Connor (Alison Lohman), a childhood fan of Morris and Collins, is determined to uncover the truth behind what happened. Her pursual of the story, and of Morris and Collins specifically, leads her into a tangled world of duplicity, drugs, sordid sex and unscrupulous secrets.
Adapted from the first novel by seventies pop-music idol and Tony Award-winning playwright Rupert Holmes, Where the Truth Lies was intended to be Atom Egoyan’s mainstream breakthrough – a juicy, noir-ish, whodunit genre picture with big-name stars, luxuriant period production design, a sexy American setting and beautifully evocative sets and costumes. But the $25 million production met with lukewarm reviews following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, faced walkouts from its test screenings in the United States and was slapped with an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Egoyan’s most sexually explicit film, it was released unrated after the MPAA refused an appeal and went on to gross less than $1 million in the United States.
Though it generally received positive notices for Bacon’s and Firth’s performances, Paul Sarossy’s soft, dreamy cinematography and Mychael Danna’s appropriately noir-ish score, the film was deemed by many to be ill-suited to Egoyan’s aesthetic and auteurist sensibilities and was criticized for being “unconvincing,” “jumbled,” “stilted,” “murky,” “humourless,” and “lethargic.” However, the film did have its champions, who found it to be “big, slick and sexy, sumptuous and suspenseful,” “a glossy erotic thriller” and “entertaining and affecting.” Bruce Kirkland of the Toronto Sun perhaps best exemplified the critical divide by hailing the film as “lush, sleek, beautifully conceived and photographed… with a mainstream sheen and an arthouse complexity… but also cold and distant and sterile.”
Where the Truth Lies was nominated for five Genie Awards, winning for Egoyan’s adapted screenplay. It was also named one of Canada’s Top Ten of 2005 by an independent, national panel of filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals.