L.I.E.  [DVD]
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Fifteen-year-old Howie (Paul Franklin Dano), is a young New Jersey native whose life falls apart around him; his mother died in a car accident several years before and his father has fallen apart. When Howie gets into bad company with Gary (Billy Kay) and is persuaded to join him in a burglary, he finds himself in a situation he is not too comfortable with; the home they burgled is that of former marine Big John (Brian Cox) who once used Gary as a male prostitute and now has a taste for teenage boys. In fact Big John makes a proposition to Howie: pay off his debt by having sex with him. Despite Howie feeling uncomfortable with the situation, Big John comes to realise just how much emotional help Howie needs.
L.I.E. features quietly electrifying performances from newcomer Paul Franklin Dano and criminally underrated veteran Brian Cox (best known on the big screen as the original Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter), as a neglected teenager and his paedophile acquaintance respectively.
Fifteen-year-old Howie derives no support from the inept parenting of his widower father and instead seeks solace and companionship firstly with a group of delinquent burglar friends and subsequently with the former marine Big John, whose complex makeup--part father-figure, part Fagin, part Svengali, part abuser--leads Howie into an ambivalent relationship in which there are no easy answers or straightforward notions of right and wrong. The premise of the movie is thrown into sharp relief by the cosy New Jersey setting, all neatly-manicured lawns and cool interiors. Indeed, the most striking images in the film are the burglary scenes, in which Howie's furtive, awkward presence in the sterile blandness of his victims' uncluttered homes forms a double-edged metaphor for both the security and the anodyne mediocrity of the society from which he feels so alienated. --Roger Thomas
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Top Customer Reviews
Howie is a sensitive fifteen year old, prone to poetry and schoolboy crushes, like the one he has on his friend Gary, a morally bankrupt male prostitute. Because of his unrequited feelings, Howie is drawn into a life of petty crime, anything to be near Gary. When a particular burglary turns sour and Howie is eventually tracked down by the homes owner; a pedophile played with excellent depth by Brian Cox, the film begins its downward spiral into emotional territory rarely experienced on film. With brilliant clarity, Michael Cuesta has filmed one of the most richly told tales I've ever had the pleasure to view.
Not for the squeamish, if sexuality is a trigger for you, 'L.I.E.' is brutally honest filmmaking at its best. Highly recommended...
As to the second strength, it is very refreshing to actually see a man whose sexual inclinations include pederasty being portrayed as a complex character - with his sexual life being just one part of what comprises his personality - as opposed to the stereotypical bogeyman which filmmakers apparently feel obliged to portray.
However, beyond these positive aspects, there is little of value to be gained from watching this film. Whilst I certainly enjoyed it, and may - perhaps - watch it a second time, it lacks sufficient emotional depth. What depth there was existed primarily between the two teenagers, Howie and Gary, and that evaporates when, disappointingly, Gary exits less than halfway into the film. Where is the intensity? What is there to draw the viewer in and burrow itself into their psyche? Whilst the film is to be commended for it's portrayal of Big John, there is definitely nothing `provocative' or `haunting' about it - descriptions that are robotically bandied about, given its subject matter. Indeed, there is absolutely nothing to warrant the 18 certificate that the censors thought fit to proscribe - no nudity, violence or sex.Read more ›
L.I.E stands for Long Island Expressway, a commuter-crowded freeway running like a knife slash through an affluent New York suburb; for Cuesta “a metaphor for a kid who’s about to be sent into the scary world of adulthood regardless of whether he’s ready or not”. A hazardous route then which, we learn, has already killed ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ singer/songwriter Harry Chapin, All the President’s Men director Alan J Pakula – and the mother of L.I.E.’s 15-year-old Howie (a remarkable performance of put-on adolescent toughness, vulnerability and knowing from Paul Franklin Dano). The ‘lie’ of the title symbolising the myth of cosy suburbia but more pertinently, the casual or far-reaching deceits L.I.E.’s guilt-edged cast of slack-jawed wide boys, footloose rent boys, corrupt white-collar contractors and “always ashamed” Chicken Hawks will visit on themselves and one another, emotionally hobbled, or shot-through with grief, every one.
If L.I.E initially drew comparisons with the work of Harmony Korine, Larry Clark – and Todd Solondz in particular, Cuesta’s film contains a warmth and delicacy often lacking from these fellow chroniclers of suburban juvenile woe.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Similar in some ways to Mysterious Skin, It is equally controversial in it's choice of subject matter - the relationship or non-relationship between an unhappy teenage boy (and his... Read morePublished on 8 Aug. 2013 by Stephen O'Byrne
The story was original, good casting and well acted.
Certainly well watching.
I personally enjoy a film when I can not see how it will pan out in the end - and I couldn't... Read more
Outstanding performance by Brian Cox as Big John, not an easy role, but
masterfully handled by Cox who demonstrates how cunning and manipulative
men like Big John are in... Read more
Well made and well constructed making it easy to follow as we jump back n forth , in one boys life . Read morePublished on 14 Sept. 2012 by D. Lloyd
Michael Cuesta is more renowned for working in US television, most notably `Six feet Under'. This was his first feature film.
L.I.E. Read more
Naively I purchase from an Amazon advertised company a DVD thinking if sold on Amazon for UK / Europe markets one could play it on a DVD player here in the UK? Alas not! Read morePublished on 1 Feb. 2012 by L. WANG
I found this film to be very engaging in its truthful treatment of topics we seem to find difficult to handle in the West at the moment. Read morePublished on 15 Jan. 2012 by D. M. Evans