Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA/Germany, 2002. Universal Pictures, Mediastream Zweite Film GmbH & Co. Productions KG, Clinica Estetico, Magnet Entertainment. Screenplay by Jonathan Demme, Steve Schmidt, Peter Stone, Jessica Bendinger, based on the motion picture Charade screenplay by Peter Stone. Cinematography by Tak Fujimoto. Produced by Jonathan Demme, Peter Saraf, Edward Saxon. Music by Rachel Portman. Production Design by Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski. Costume Design by Catherine Leterrier. Film Editing by Carol Littleton.
It’s hard to watch a remake of one of your favourite movies (Charade in this case) without being somewhat biased, but I’m fairly confident that even those completely unaware of the Audrey Hepburn-Cary Grant classic will find this a boring and uneventful thriller. Thandie Newton makes the perfect Hepburn update as a young woman intent on divorcing her husband (Stephen Dillane) only to come home and find out that he has been murdered. Now she’s in the hot spot since, before dying, her husband was in possession of a huge load of stolen money that some very dangerous people now think she is hiding from them. Enter a helpful stranger (Mark Wahlberg) with some mysterious connections and a helpful but suspicious police commandant (Christine Boisson) to complicate everything and make our heroine wonder whom she can trust in order to survive. Jonathan Demme tries very hard to pay righteous tribute to the glorious New Wave French films of yesteryear but he never can pull it off, primarily because Charade was never one of those films. Had he remade a Godard film or something from Truffaut’s early oeuvre he might have made a better parallel, but Donen’s classic was a glossy Hitchcockian thriller set in Paris and the remake suffers from Demme’s sapping out the humour and romance and concentrating only on the suspense plot (which he dumbs down anyway). Also hampering the proceedings is the complete lack of chemistry between the two stars, who don’t even seem to be aware of each other’s presence. Save your time and rent the original.