The trouble with fame, as director Atom Egoyan shows it in Where The Truth Lies, is that the version dished up by Hollywood’s fantasy machinery inevitably hollows out the souls of those endowed with it.
Along with the adoration of fans comes sex on tap, pills to get you up, pills to bring you down, and no chance to be anything other than what the public mythology says you are.
This turns out to be a problem for Lanny Morris and Vince Collins -“ and particularly for Vince.
It’s 1957. The goofy Lanny (Kevin Bacon) and serious straight man Vince (Colin Firth), loosely modelled on Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, are America’s best-loved comedians and have just hosted the annual polio telethon.
They can have anything they want, any time they want. But a dead waitress in their hotel suite is something they definitely don’t want.
And although neither is charged -“ they both have airtight alibis -“ their partnership is irrevocably damaged. They never work together or speak again.
Shift to 1972: Karen O’Connor, played by Alison Lohman, is a talented young reporter bent on uncovering the secrets of that one night.
Armed with a million dollar publishing deal, she convinces Vince to spill the beans in a tell-all book about the duo’s sleazy, drug-fuelled and sometimes violent lifestyle, their break-up and, of course, the truth about the death of Maureen, the waitress.
And, as is always the case in a crime thriller, there is more than meets the eye.
Where The Truth Lies is based upon the novel by Rupert Holmes and is a stylish noir whodunit rich with twists.
At its best, it conjures stylish modern film noir classics Chinatown and Mulholland Dr. Egoyan’s script slips neatly between 1972 where Vince and Lanny live in the reclusive shadows of faded fame and the flashbacks to the flying 50s when the world was their oyster.
But despite the film’s intelligent exploration of fame’s corrupting power, Egoyan’s script unfolds too neatly. Annoyingly, every plot twist and trick is carefully explained. Does Egoyan think so little of his audience’s deductive powers?
Still, this small matter shouldn’t detract from the film’s satisfying performances by Bacon and Firth as two men who sold their souls to be rich and famous and lost their hearts in return.
As Lanny tells Karen, the trouble with fame is you are always wondering when it will desert you and how you will survive once it does.
And while Alison Lohman seems a little young in the role of the young reporter, her performance grows on you as she ventures further into the rabbit hole of Lanny and Vince’s estrangement and sad loneliness.