October 24, 2005 12:00 PM

Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman

Flawed casting, even in a single role, can throw an entire movie irretrievably off. Someone goofed big-time when they decided to give Lohman a key role in Where the Truth Lies, a fuzzy-headed suspense drama about an ace female reporter digging into a decades-old murder that led to the breakup of a beloved nightclub and TV comedy team (Firth and Bacon). Lohman is a decent actress—she proved that in White Oleander and Matchstick Men—but she looks a decade too young and inexperienced to be the wily femme fatale she’s portraying here. You snicker every time she opens her notebook, expecting to see her next whip out a chubby Crayola and draw princesses and ponies.

Truth, directed by Atom Egoyan (Ararat), is intent on showing the dark underbelly of showbiz, not exactly unexplored territory. It doesn’t help that the plotting is laborious and eventually downright silly, and its ballyhooed, supposedly shocking sex scene is less than shocking. The reason to see Truth—and it’s reason enough—is for Bacon, who gives unexpected depth to a character who initially seems like a sleaze but turns out to be the smartest guy in any room he chooses to enter. Bacon just keeps getting better and better. (Not rated)

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