"Charade", Stanley Doen Productions, 1963
One of the most charming and feel-good films I've seen in recent memory with an intriguingly comedic spin on the thriller/mystery genre that makes it wholly original.
The glue that manages to stick the film's charm together is the brilliantly orchestrated relationship that Hepburn's Regina and Grant's Joshua have. Their flirty, playful back-and-forths are meticulously assembled through Donen's precise direction, bringing out the humanity of their performances which also helps manage to ground the ever-tangled nature of the plot. This is accompanied by the wonderfully sharp wit brought out by the writing, managing to strike a humorously self-aware balance between the characteristics of the archetypal characters they are playing in relation to the mystery angle of the diegesis and who they are on an individual level. Even when the writing seems needlessly droll, the consistently bright-eyed tone that Grant and Hepburn manage to maintain is a pleasure to watch in itself. The buoyant treatment towards characterisation not only fits snugly with the cause-and-effect style of narrative structure, but is also applied to the villainous trio, who are just as fun to watch, although more cartoonish and animated in performance. This also confirms the light-hearted feel of the aesthetic, reassuring audiences that the film does not take the multiple conflicts it explores too seriously. This provides the platform for the themes of truth and identity the plot explores, making the impression of distrust that much more poignant, as well as making the whirling plotpoints and twists that much more satisfying. Moreover, the warm and rich brown backdrop of the mise en scene underpins this film with a sense of class and prestige that makes the feel-good factor all the more infectious.
Overall, this film presents audiences with a wonderfully quaint Hitchcock-esque journey with a lot of heart and attention to the humanity of a seamlessly extraordinary situation.