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  •  REVIEW: L.I.E.


    Long Island vice teen

    "L.I.E." raises the bar on the coming-of-age story with a tightly focused portrait of a 15-year-old who looks for a father figure and finds his kindly neighborhood sexual predator.


    A school counselor — up to now the only adult who's noticed what's going on in Howie's confused life — is trying with little success to get through to him, to show she understands.

    Directed by: Michael Cuesta.
    Written by: Stephen M. Ryder, Michael Cuesta, Gerald Cuesta.
    Cast: Brian Cox, Paul Franklin Dano, Billy Kay, Bruce Altman, James Costa, Tony Donnelly, Walter Masterson, Marcia DeBonix, Adam LeFevre.
    Cinematography: Romeo Tirone.

    Related links: Official site
    New Directors New Films 2001
  • Overview
  • The Day I Became a Woman
  • Dinner Rush
  • Face
  • L.I.E.
  • Nine Queens
  • Peppermint Candy
  • "You're not a nerd," she says, "you're not a jock, you're not a brain, you're not a stoner . . . "

    "I'm not a gangsta!" the 15-year-old offers, not taking this conversation very seriously. "So what am I?"

    "You are a Howie Blitzer," she says.

    "Great!" he answers with sarcastic enthusiasm. "My own category!"

    Truly, Howie is in his own category among movie characters — he's the hero of "L.I.E." a coming-of-age story without a coming of age. The movie doesn't force the 15-year-old to achieve some revelation that will resolve his troubles and set him on the right path toward adulthood; it focuses on just a few days in which he learns to see a few feet further through his own personal fog.

    At the beginning of "L.I.E.," Howie, whose mother recently died in an accident on the Long Island Expressway and whose father is wrapped up in his own affairs, has fallen in with what's clearly a bad crowd — a thief and male prostitute, who's the brains of the bunch, plus a stupid kid and another who's having sex with his own sister. Because he's become friends with the ringleader, Gary, kids at school assume he's a faggot and beat him up accordingly — and they're only some of the people responsible for the two black eyes he has by the end of the film.

    John, desperate to introduce young Howie to the mysteries of the flesh, also happens to be the one guy in the picture who can introduce him to adulthood and the one person whom the teen doesn't reflexively push away.  

    Into this mix arrives Big John Harrigan, a burly middle-aged Irishman and decorated Vietnam vet who, in the logic of suburban America, is considered a pillar of the community while almost openly preying on vulnerable young boys like Howie. The "BJ" on his license plate doesn't just stand for "Big John."

    John, desperate to introduce young Howie to the mysteries of the flesh, also happens to be the one guy in the picture who can introduce him to adulthood and the one person whom the teen doesn't reflexively push away. John goes all out to romance the youngster and impress him with the grown-up lifestyle, but he also feels genuinely fatherly as he starts to see the turmoil at Howie's core.

    Whether "L.I.E." is pushing us to reconsider man-boy relationships is not certain, but it does offer us quite complex characters who — like all of us, especially at adolescence — are grappling with their identities and with the good and bad in their natures. Outwardly, Howie is often a punching bag for others who puts up a prickly front to protect himself and joins in petty crimes to attract friends; inwardly, he's a thoughtful, poetic and wounded soul who's still coming to terms with the loss of his mother and trying to figure out how to make real human connections.

    "L.I.E." features spectacular and yet never overacted performances from Paul Franklin Dano as Howie, Brian Cox as Big John and Billy Kay as Gary. It's a story that subtly weaves together themes of adolescence, loss, parent-child relationships, gay awareness and suburban culture. It shows a young life in tight focus, and it works because it doesn't try to answer all of its questions outright, just show a few short days that give us the clues to understand the characters' past and future.

    SEPTEMBER 7, 2001

    Reader comments on L.I.E.:

  • Impressive movie   from Omar Chavez, Oct 21, 2001
  • just wow   from Vincent Jetté Pomerleau, Apr 11, 2003
  • BRIAN COX IS BRILLIANT!   from john smith, Apr 20, 2002
  • review   from Stanley Ingersole, May 23, 2002
  • Re: review   from dan, Oct 1, 2008
  • Disturbing, but great   from john doe, May 26, 2002
  • Great Movie - SPOILERS   from Johnny, Jun 6, 2002
  • Wow   from Katrina Moxley, Jun 17, 2002
  • Re: Wow   from , Jun 22, 2003
  • Re: Wow   from dan, Oct 1, 2008
  • The movie   from Cyrus, Jun 22, 2002
  • Amazing...   from Stuart, Jun 25, 2002
  • wow   from Hollie, Aug 27, 2002
  • not just any movie!   from Sara, Sep 2, 2002
  • Moral "grey area" involved   from schuyler, Sep 7, 2002
  • One of the best movies I have ever seen   from K M, Jan 19, 2003
  • A true LIE beneath   from jesus jesus, Feb 1, 2003
  • Cast   from Shawn, Mar 5, 2003
  • L.I.E.   from wade, Apr 2, 2003
  • Re: L.I.E.   from , Mar 21, 2013
  • Great? Not really.   from theveed, Apr 16, 2003
  • A Visionary Film   from Derrick Credito, Jul 24, 2003
  • Re: Great? Not really.   from Michael, Aug 24, 2004
  • Where?   from Mutiny, May 2, 2003
  • Re: Where?   from L.I. Girl, Jun 3, 2003
  • Re: Where?   from Mutiny, Jun 8, 2003
  • Re: Where?   from Mo, Jul 13, 2003
  • Re: Where?   from john, Apr 24, 2004
  • dix hills   from Mutiny, Jun 8, 2003
  • Thought provoking film   from Steve C, Jul 27, 2003
  • Re: Thought provoking film   from Kry, Aug 4, 2003
  • Una vision desde la Ciudad de Mexico.   from Jacobo Silva, Jan 11, 2004
  • Re: Una vision desde la Ciudad de Mexico.   from alita, Nov 24, 2004
  •   from Ricky Louis, Oct 4, 2006
  • Itęs not only a movie.......Itęs a Reality!!   from Montana, Nov 17, 2006
  • L.I.E.   from Ron Walsh, Sep 23, 2011

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