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A MOST UNSAVORY 'TRUTH'.

Byline: Glenn Whipp Film Critic

A FRACTURED Hollywood fairy tale that is as unconvincing as it is unsavory, Atom Egoyan's ``Where the Truth Lies'' fails both as a tawdry slice of film noir and as some kind of truth-telling expose into the private lives of the rich and infamous. It's destined to be remembered solely for its three-way sex scene involving Kevin Bacon, Rachel Blanchard and a very un-Darcy-like Colin Firth, a bit of business that, like the rest of the movie, is less titillating than tiresome.

The serious-minded Egoyan wants to turn his source material - Rupert Holmes' 2003 glittery whodunit novel - into a treatise on how appearances can be deceiving in Tinseltown (hardly a lightning-bolt revelation), and in the process he saps the material of show-biz brio that might have made the story more persuasive. The movie's jumbled narrative structure doesn't help, nor does a thoroughly miscast Alison Lohman, playing the movie's pushy Nancy Drew surrogate.

The movie means to unfurl the sudden breakup of a wildly popular 1950s comedy act that's obviously modeled on Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Lanny Morris (Bacon) is the anything-goes, wild-and-crazy guy paired with suave British foil Vince Collins (Firth). Egoyan doesn't spend much time creating three-dimensional characters, figuring we know the type of politically incorrect Rat Packer pallies he's presenting here, men's men who win the hearts of dames and the admiration of less-cool males.

Lanny and Vince are swingin' from the highest branches of the tree of life until the nude corpse of a beautiful young woman is found in the bathtub of their hotel suite. Who was she? How did she get there? Why does Lanny, 15 years later, erupt into a violent rage at the mere appearance of shellfish? Egoyan will answer all these questions, though by the time he does, the movie feels as stiff as that body in the tub.

That's because to get to the answers, Egoyan jerks you back and forth in time, using multiple narrators to provide some sort of shifting ``Rashomon''-like perspective. In the 1970s, we see journalist Karen (Lohman) trying to ascertain where the truth lies, both for personal and professional reasons. She meets Lanny and Vince, ring-a-ding-dings them, learns some sordid stories and creates a few new debauched chapters of her own.

It's not exactly a stunner that Egoyan (``The Sweet Hereafter'') drained the wit and sexiness from Holmes' source material. The man's film resume isn't exactly a barrelful of laughs. But to deliver a mess like this that sports a central female character completely lacking any trace of recognizable humanity is something of a shocker, certainly more surprising than anything you'll see on screen. Unless, of course, you believe in the depth of Katie Holmes' love for Tom Cruise. Then all bets are off. This movie will rock your world.

Glenn Whipp, (818) 713-3672

glenn.whipp(at)dailynews.com

WHERE THE TRUTH LIES - One and one half stars

(Not rated: strong sexual content, graphic dialogue, some violence)

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman.

Director: Atom Egoyan.

Running time: 1 hr. 48 min.

Playing: Pacific's Sherman Oaks 5; Laemmle's Playhouse 7 in Pasadena; Landmark's NuWilshire in Santa Monica; ArcLight in Hollywood.

In a nutshell: A Martin-and-Lewis team from the '50s gets down and dirty in this jumbled and unsavory take on the dark side of fame.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 14, 2005
Words:556
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