25 January 2012 | StevePulaski
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but one lie
Even in its short runtime, The Lie manages to provide us with some very convincing characters instead of typical caricatures provided in films now. This is a surreal, sometimes brutally honest look at life when it gives you a little less than what you're hoping for. When reality exceeds your dreams and you begin to enter your midlife crisis when you're twentysomething.
Our main character, Lonnie, is played by The Blair Witch Project's Joshua Leonard. He also gets the writing and directing credits making this his first effort at both. Lonnie is an unsatisfied worker at a video production house, hoping that his music career with his buddy Tank (Webber) will soon take off. His wife Clover (Weixler) is hoping to work at a drug facility as soon as she and Lonnie reach an agreement.
They have a kid together. Six month old Xana, who is cute as a button. But she, sadly, becomes victim to a crucial lie told by Lonnie which I dare not spoil. Soon, Lonnie watches his life spiral out of control, with no end in sight. On top of everything, he worries that his wreck of a life will become a permanent, everyday thing.
I'll save everyone the same misconception I had walking into The Lie - it is not erected from the ground up on the typical, "lie spiraling beyond one's control" schlock. It doesn't throw one over-exaggerated effect after another as one would think until it becomes virtually uncontrollable. It actually becomes pretty humanistic and comparable to maybe one person's real consequences.
Being that this is Leonard's first effort in the directing and writing field, it's important to pick up on how he handles the story and the direction. He does a pretty decent job. Especially in scenes where the film clearly avoids clichés, one being when the lie is finally discovered to be a lie by someone. It doesn't become a screaming, shouting, f-word contest between the two characters. It's handled in a human-like, yet sort of unlikely manner. If someone actually discovered the lie's origin, especially one like this, I believe they would be upset beyond any form of recognition.
That is why the ending is a bit shaky and mildly disrupts the flow of the whole film. We've become so attached to these characters it would've been nice if we had a bit more time to spend with them. It's not that the ending we get is bad, it's just a little unexpected in a sour way. It left me in a strange place. But this is one of those independent films where the ending is very difficult to outline. It's best to contemplate it on your own rather than have someone spell it out for you.
Still, I think what really makes The Lie succeed is the overall idea of the whole thing. We have a man who has told a wretched lie of an incomprehensible nature, yet we still sympathize with him since we sort of understand why he has said such a lie. We don't entirely get it, but we vaguely know where he's coming from. If a film can make me side with a character after such a wretched statement made by him/her, then it's a very well written film.
The Lie is an ingenious, entertaining effort adapted from a short story by T.C. Boyle. The script is managed efficiently, the directing, very indie and very nicely conducted, and the acting from both Leonard and Weixler worthy of recognition.
Starring: Joshua Leonard, Jess Weixler, and Mark Webber. Directed by: Joshua Leonard.