Lies We Tell
dir Mitu Misra
scr Ewen Glass, Andy McDermott
prd Danny Gulliver, Andy McDermott, Malcolm Scott
with Gabriel Byrne, Sibylla Deen, Mark Addy, Jan Uddin, Harvey Keitel, Reece Ritchie, Gina McKee, Nicholas Farrell, Danica Johnson, Emily Atack, Manzar Sehbai-Pal, Harish Patel
release UK/US 2.Feb.18
17/UK 1h49
Lies We Tell
Married to the mob: Byrne and Deen

addy keitel mckee
raindance film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Lies We Tell A fairly standard British thriller, this is a slickly made but murky, mopey movie with an unfocussed plot that gets lost in the manipulative editing. There's a lot of technical skill in the way the film is put together, but nothing about the story ever becomes clear enough to draw the audience in. Key details are dribbled in too late to generate sympathy, and messages are muddled.

In Yorkshire, Donald (Byrne) is a driver for shady tycoon Demi (Keitel), who asks him to discreetly clear out a lavish apartment he maintained for his young Muslim mistress Amber (Deen). With his wife (McKee) divorcing him, Donald lives with his brother-in-law Billy (Addy) and makes wine in his spare time. He also takes an interest in Amber's wellbeing. But this drags him into her messy past, when she was married to hotshot mobster KD (Uddin), who now wants to marry Amber's teen sister Miriam (Johnson).

Director Misra develops an overtly emotive tone from the start, playing up the character interaction without really defining how these people are connected. The cast is excellent, but without any context or narrative coherence, it's impossible for us to connect with anyone or even to work out who they are. Scenes are intriguing simply because they're shot and played in colourful ways, but it's impossible to engage with anyone or anything. Which means there's no suspense at all, which of course is a serious problem for a thriller.

Byrne anchors the film nicely as the calm, understated Donald, who is clearly concealing some deep emotional scars (they reveal themselves later). Deen is solid as the most intriguing person on-screen, but the details about Amber's earlier experiences are far too sketchy to properly bring her to life. This leaves her family's drama feeling preachy and obvious, using the important religious/cultural issues as part of a contrived narrative. As a result, the other characters are merely one-note.

With undefined details in virtually every scene, watching this film feels like coming into a soapy TV series halfway through the season. Questions arise constantly relating to the past, and yet we haven't a clue how we should feel about what's happening. So we end up hanging on the throwaway scenes, which are nicely shot and played but tangential. And as things begin to come together, the movie becomes increasingly melodramatic, spending more time on social issues and uninvolving sideplots than the central characters.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 24.Jan.18

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