The Lie

Film
2 out of 5 stars
Joshua Leonard, Violet Long, Jess Weixler, The Lie
Joshua Leonard, Violet Long and Jess Weixler in The Lie

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

There are lots of little fibs in writer-director-actor Joshua Leonard's adaptation of T. Coraghessan Boyle's short story about a film editor caught in a midlife crisis. Accused of calling his boss an "old prick," our hero Lonnie (Leonard) goes into denial mode. He exagerrates his anxiety attacks in order to scam medical marijuana prescriptions from his therapist. His wife, Clover (Weixler), pretends to enjoy the horrible song her husband and their hippie pal (Webber) recorded together. (It's a testament to Weixler's talent that the movie's best scene is a near-single shot of her trying to hide her aural displeasure.) As new parents, the couple deceive themselves into thinking that they're not disappointed about the way their postpartum lives have changed. Then, while playing hooky from work, Lonnie tells a whopper of falsehood---the worst fiction a father can perpetrate---and suddenly, you understand why the film's title is a singular construction. This lie makes the other ones seem paltry by comparison.

You can see how Boyle's compact tale of thirtysomething blues would attract an indie hyphenate like Leonard, with its built-in irony, pathos and actor-ready tangents. But while the Humpday star keeps things appropriately modest, he doesn't add much in the way of momentum or meditation on male malaise; the movie meanders like its dissatisfied, part-time pothead protagonist, not wisely but too well. And though Leonard thankfully builds out the source material's abrupt ending, he still overplays his hand: To have a character spend an entire movie caught up in a college-age sense of self, only to have him declare "I'm caught up in some college-age idea of myself" at one of several climaxes is, truth be told, a sign of directorial insecurity.

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