What kind of trouble are we in when the most sexually explicit mainstream film of the year is also the least provocative? Such is the conundrum created by Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies, which has caused much controversy since its premiere at Cannes. The rumpus surrounds its his-on-his-on-hers climax – which, significantly, if somewhat ironically, all three parties emerge from unsated. The MPAA reportedly offered Egoyan and distributor ThinkFilm an R rating if the director promised to shorten the offending sex scene by an unspecified number of thrusts; Egoyan refused, on the grounds that the scene was crucial to the plot – and, as he shot it all in one take, he had nothing to cut away to.
Let me soothe your worried brain by telling you right from go that the threesome in question is, in fact, integral to the plot, in that it literalizes what only the inattentive and irony deficient would have otherwise missed. And, save for a junk cutaway to three attractive people trying to open a bottle of champagne and failing miserably, Egoyan would have been hard pressed to shave the scene in any way. But despite all the careful work that's gone into its choreography and design, the big sex scene is one of the few moments of Truth that *doesn't* read as obscene (or, at least, obscenely overdone) and that's something of a problem. Egoyan drowns his film in rococo sexual decoration, leaving no room for the tension that makes sex sexy. Where the Truth Lies is the worst kind of tease: all over-the-top come-on with nothing to say, it spends itself long before the main event. It's pretty enough, but my, it bores.