Sex, sleaze and scandalous secrets top the bill in Where The Truth Lies, an uneven showbiz thriller from Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan (Ararat). It's the early 70s, and young journo Karen (Alison Lohman) is digging up the past of 50s superstar double act Lanny (Kevin Bacon) and Vince (Colin Firth) for a tell-all book. Why did they break up? How were they involved with the maid (Rachel Blanchard) found dead in their hotel room? And do we care? Yes, but only up to a point, thanks to strained storytelling and a lukewarm leading lady.
While Karen gets in too deep, Lohman simply seems out of her depth. A delight as Nic Cage's con-daughter in Matchstick Men, she turns out here like a would-be Nancy Drew, bringing a blank innocence to a film that cries out for something darker, more complex. Happily, darker, more complex is precisely what we get from Messrs Firth and Bacon. Whether doing their thing for a nightclub crowd or musing on the downside of fame ("Having to be a nice guy is the toughest thing in the world if you're not," broods Bacon), they're on showstopping form.
"OUTBREAKS OF SHEER PERVINESS"
Sadly, Egoyan isn't. With its convoluted structure (there's flashbacks galore), noir-ish air of mystery and outbreaks of sheer perviness (including a threesome and an Alice In Wonderland scene that's pure David Lynch), the film brings to mind the director's Exotica (1994). But it isn't in the same league. Rather, it's an awkward marriage of smut and smarts that teases on every level but doesn't quite satisfy.