Charade Review

To visit the beauty and charm of France would be one thing, but should I ever visit the Parisian culture I hope not to get embroiled in a tale of murder and inheritance, spies and backstabbers. Charade has it all, the Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant collaboration showcases a wild variety of themes that simply shouldn’t fit together. Helmed by Stanley Donen, Charade throws caution to the wind with its natural and intense blend of all the defining portions of 1960s creativity. Frustrated leading characters that play with one another’s emotions, the backdrop of a beautiful city, Charade has it all, and in abundance.

With the chemistry between Hepburn and Grant immediately obvious, their relationship on-screen is tremendous and wholly engaging. Strong performances from the pair of them certainly help, and they aren’t without their charming scenes together. Crucially, though, they can hold their own when apart. When not relying on the throes of comedy and accidental romance, they are steady as individuals as well as a compact, entertaining unit. A cat and mouse game is played between the two, but it is not clear which is which. The beauty of Charade is that it promotes the romance between the two on a level of importance that never succeeds in toppling the underlying mystery, nor does it ever overshadow the tensions that find themselves playing with the fate of each character.

Death and horror is present throughout, and one by one these supporting characters meet harrowing ends. They’re not exactly the most impressive, and Walter Matthau is perhaps the most jarring of all. So totally underused, his handful of scenes are brilliant, but his presence is rarely felt. Hepburn and Grant share incredible chemistry with one another, not just as love interests but as capably thrilling performers, carrying a series of events concerned with lost money and murder. How Donen brings quality comedy into this mixture is tremendous. Charade presents a thrilling narrative, and the comedy gels well with it, even if it does take a little while to get the wheels turning.

Divine wordplay and a collection of exceptional performances make Charade a wholly enjoyable film. Donen doesn’t do much of incredible innovation with his film here, but he doesn’t need to. His film presents a fun and engaging experience without trying all that much, relying on the excellent chemistry of its cast, and their obsessions with wealth. Brutal at times, but oddly comical too, the blend is as absurd as the title may suggest, but getting away with it is half the fun. Charade revels in these moments of preposterous happenstance, and pulls it off with a spectacularly natural ease. All the tones of a great action thriller, moulded to the ever-shifting styles of these great performers.

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