The Return of Film Noir By Sandra Perovic

in 58th Cannes Film Festival

by Sandra Perovic

Haneke, Jarmusch, Cronenberg, Wenders, Egoyan – all treated a similar theme at the 58th Cannes Festival – the influence of past events on the present, showing how inhibited feelings can suddenly emerge in seemingly settled and happy lives. However, the truth is always hidden somewhere in between. Every one of these great directors approached it in their own unique way, in their favourite genres.

With Where The Truth Lies, Atom Egoyan, the talented Canadian director of Armenian origin, an award-winner at previous festivals, delivered one of the pearls of this year’s festival. Although one of the best films at Cannes, Where The Truth Lies unfortunately didn’t get any award. This psycho-thriller in the film noir genre, should have won awards for directing, screenplay or best actor, both for Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon. Where The Truth Lies (that cost CAN $20 million), is much more acceptable to a broader audience than his previous ones.

Egoyan’s movies are characterized by restlessness, richness, obsession and sophistication. His films range from psychological dramas adapted from novels to original scripts dredged from his subconsciousness. Where The Truth Lies was adapted Rupert Holmes’ novel of the same name about entertainers, Lanny and Vince (portrayed by Bacon and Firth) who had a successful run as a comedy duo in the late 1950’s. They lived up to the catch phrase: sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. They lived the high life, tempted by all the vices, the traps of fame. Nearly 20 years later, they become the subject of an investigation by journalist Karen O’Connor, played by Alison Lohman (Matchstick Men), who attempts to reveal a mysterious affair from their past, involving the murder of a woman.

Egoyan attempts to destroy the myth about stars created by Hollywood that they are perfect individuals with few imperfections. He presents all the decadence in show business, and the conflict between public myth and personal truth. The film is dramatically rich and covers the period between the 1950’s and the 1970’s, using flashbacks that give an additional dynamic to the film. The roles given to Bacon and Firth resemble those of the comedy duo of the ’50s, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. However, although the film is about comedians, it is far from a comedy being concerned with violence, sex and decadence. In fact, because of its explicit sex scenes, the film created controversy at the festival.

The art direction is especially effective because the story switches back and forth between the 1950’s and the 1970’s. The 1970’s serves as a distinct departure from the ritzy lifestyle of the 1950’s. Where the Truth Lies is a sumptuous and seductive film noir that explores the dark side of fame, fortune and success – it’s like a perfectly designed luxurious limousine with dark windows that drives you along a mysterious, dark road, full of excitement and perversion.