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Review: In 'Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story,' Arnold Schwarzenegger holds back

The bodybuilder-actor-politician's purported 'tell-all' steers clear of anything remotely salacious, a PG-account that suffers from a startling lack of self-reflection.

October 01, 2012|By Mary McNamara | Senior Culture Editor

"Total Recall" offers windows on many worlds, from Hollywood behind the scenes — "Control freaks like Jim [Cameron] are big fans of night shooting. It gives you total command over the lighting because you create it" — to descriptions of Thanksgiving with the Kennedys. Read one way, it is the ultimate believe-it-and-you-can-be-it testimonial. Read another, it's a love letter to Shriver, who is portrayed from first to last as a beautiful, talented woman who was far too good for her husband. Either way, it evolves into a portrait of a man who defines himself almost entirely by the goals he has reached, no matter the cost to those around him.

At one point, he describes his decision to switch roles in "The Terminator" — he was originally up for the more romantic Reese. After meeting Schwarzenegger, Cameron believed he had a greater feel for the robot, and Schwarzenegger agreed. "I had a very clear vision…." he writes. "No thinking, no blinking, no thought, just action."

Which may wind up being a more telling tagline than even the famous "I'll be back."

mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

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