Brian Cox, Paul Franklin Dano, Billy Kay, Bruce Altman, James
Costa and Tony Michael Donnelly
by: Michael Cuesta
Interview w/co-writer Stephen Ryder
is one of the most disturbing, brilliant, mesmerizing films I
have seen in perhaps, a decade. Too bold? Well, it's a week later
and I am still running the characters through my head. Shocking,
revealing, and the kind of film that you find your hand repeatedly
and uncontrollably moving itself up to cover your mouth to shadow
your dropped jaw over and over again.
is an intense, intelligent film that grabs you from the first
frame and holds on till the last credit rolls by. Director Michael
Cuesta, who wrote and directed L.I.E along with Stephen M Ryder,
has created an eerie snapshot of a boy's life just as he's coming
of age while his life is falling apart around him, yet he still
manages to find himself all within the span of about a week.
Blitzer (a stellar performance by Paul Franklin Dano)is fifteen
and lives in Long Island near the infamous Expressway. He knows
many people have lost their lives there the famous and not
so famousbut most importantly, his mother Sylvia. Howie
says at the top of the film "On the Long Island Expressway
there are lanes going east, lanes going west, and lanes going
straight to hell." That's the film's prelude in a metaphoric
tone for what's to come.
the loss of his mother, Howie is left with his self absorbed,
shady father Marty (a man with a DNA drop of Bruce Willis, Bruce
Altman ) who's in his own life altering stage at present and is
nearly oblivious to Howie's life crisis'.
most teens do he simply dives into outside friendships to replace
the losses...Howie hangs with the tougher boys in his neighborhood.
They are that crass and baby faced breed of teens that are as
dangerous and cuddly as baby rattlers. The "gang" robs
houses more for the hell of it then necessity without a thought
for their actions.
of these fellows Gary (Billy Kay) asks Howie to go in on a little
side break-in. Howie is semi-smitten in more ways than
one with young stud in the making Gary and agrees to go along
on the heist.
explains he knows a place where there's a treasure trove of stuff
just waiting to be taken, easy as getting cigarettes from a convenience
store clerk with your dad's I.D.. The two hit the house, sneaking
in through the cellar, as the owners' party is in full swing above
their derelict little heads.
Howie knocks over the fine china vase teetering on the edge of
oblivion the two skedattle but not before the homes owner, Big
John (Brian Cox) manages to rip a bit of the shirt off one of
John's pretty upset. He sniffs the snippet of cloth from the shirt
and begins the hunt. He heads right to Gary's stomping ground.
Gary and he are old "friends" of sorts. When confronted,
Gary immediately confesses how the other boy, Howie, set the whole
thing up. Big
John then goes after Howie. He gets him, and the games begin.
Howie quickly discovers both his friend Gary and Big John have
secret lives. Big John, BJ, is a pedophile that has paid Gary
for sexual favors for quite some time. Howie is not shocked or
even disgusted, surprisingly. He accepts it and, while disturbed
about the events doesn't seem shocked. I found it very believable
with all his age group knows and sees in "their" worlds
today. It's an under society, their society; from guns at school
to hard-core drugs, sexual encounters (hopefully with, at least
the same age group) and they just live with it while trying to
fit in, look cool and make it through puberty.
begins, at first, to toy with the immensely creepy pedophile Big
John, and then even have an odd respect for him. He finds a nurturing
friend, yech, a father figure in Big John. I know, I know, hard
to fathom. I haven't lost my mind, it's the screenwriters who
have managed to bewitch me and the whole audience. Big John's
a scumpod with a heart of gold...no that's not right is it.
is what is so amazing about the film. This movie showed the depth
of humans and their facades. Big John's a pedophile, and a predator,
but even he has his boundaries. Howie and Big John meet when Howie
is the most vulnerable. Howie's got no father figure in his life,
he's having fantasies about boys, especially this Gary, and he
has no idea what the future is expecting of him. People like Big
John salivate at these kinds of opportunities, or do they?
strong movie with many incredible performances. There will be
a big controversy around L.I.E. because of its bluntness, honesty
and willingness to show real life. The makers haven't prettied
up one frame for the Disney audience. In fact the MPAA has given
it a NC-17 rating- though I don't understand why- honestly.
this is not a film for everyone. And certainly it will
not be one for families to join and view over the Thanksgiving
turkey, while grandpa reminisces about the time he experimented...but
it is an important film about secret lives, multidimensional lives,
Cox, the actor who plays the repulsive Big John fellow gave an
academy award winning performance. He was at once creepy, and
charming, slimy and silly. His intenseness volleying with jovial
pats on the back made him a particularly menacing villain. One
you could actually like, if you were not so repulsed by what his
extra curricular activities were. Brilliant.
actor Paul Franklin Dano was amazing in his ability to make us
feel his confusion and get under the skin of a teen that has no
one to turn to. His character was intelligent and probably closer
to what the teens of today are like. They know a hell of a lot
and they are not so easily shocked. He's the anti-Haley Joel Osment.
Kay, the boy playing Gary, has an air about him. A strong young
actor with the face of a cherub and the stance of a James Dean
in the making.
warned this movie does contain graphic discussion of gay and pedophiliac
nature. There are no sexual acts (thank God).
Nada, your stomach turns too often for food products.