Lies We Tell

Hidden motivations, secrets; clashes of identity and nationality make up the foundation of Lies We Tell, the new debut film from Mitu Misra.
A film encompassing themes of cultural integration, hypocrisy, families and the crossing of worlds.

L'immagine può contenere: 6 personeThe film starts with an assured and steady hand, slowly revealing little but much. We watch a driver, who is called Donald, played by Gabriel Bryne, transporting what we assume to be his boss, Demi, who is played by Harvey Keitel. A hierarchy is seen, reflected throughout the film through social standing and social nationality. Infidelity is suggested, but never shown; a showing of the uncertainty of life. There is a sense of unspoken feelings, events yet to occur.
We quickly cut through time, wherein we are indirect witnesses to a bereavement. Life now takes its course.

Lies We Tell holds its hand; it is restrained, subtle in its telling of themes. Like life itself, threads slowly reveal themselves, pieces fitting the puzzles; though we are always unsure.
With themes of honour, regrets, repression, and the general overbearing of life, also intertwined is the very essence of the film; the showing of different cultures, adapting to their environment. The struggle of minorities in a hard and cold, neutralised city is explored in detail. The factors of their environment restrict them, forced into a life of darkness; yet they can break through, cracks of light showing from unexpected relationships made. It is clear that Misra strongly wants to show this separate side of life; a hard existence, where freedom is rare, decisions are not your own. It can be said that the film successfully envelops us into this thinking.

The film could be also be seen differently. Gabriel Bryne’s character is mysterious; a man history that evades us. The journey he takes could be a kin as the desolation of a man’s soul;, one full of repressed emotions and decisions, mistakes; for example, as suggested by his recent or to be divorce. This isn’t explored greatly; it’s uncertain whether that was purposefully, or the culture was the main concern. Through the film, Bryne’s character appears to attempt to redeem himself by venturing into the abstract underworld, here, its abstraction transcribed into the multicultural nocturnal life of cities.
All of this is transcended by Zbigniew Preisner’s eternal score, an extraordinary and beautiful abstraction of the character’s mind-sets, emotions; an electrifying soundscape. At times, the music becomes the film; the connection between us and our fears.
Another strength is the cinematography, utilised greatly; Santosh Sivan’s delicate framing of the scenic landscapes, or using frames to reflect the character’s mind-sets, through closed in shots, representing the claustrophobia of their situation, or wide long shots, considering the expanse of life, all paths that can be taken.

At times, however, the film is uneven. In terms of constructive criticism, there may be a few points; while Preisner’s soundtrack is wonderful, this seems to be a jarring contrast, as the film tries to be real, social realism, the score being a transcendental piece; though it can’t be denied that it gives the film a heightened emotional sensibility.
Characters are suddenly introduced and disappear; relationships suddenly form very strongly, seemingly out of nowhere; one scene we meet a character, the next they are very good friends. This is particularly with the farm, wherein Sibylla’s characters family seem to be close to Donald and Billy. Time could have been taken in retrospect, to build the ties of each character to one another, what they meant, and their motivations towards one another.
Some lines appear to be slightly over the top and alike; clunky at times. However, strong mention has to be made of Gabriel Bryne and Sibylla Dean, giving powerful, passionate performances.

What appears to be the case here, is a film inspired by strong emotion, but not quite enough experience to translate it to the screen; a commended effort nonetheless. What is important is the exploration of these cultures hidden to the public eyes, what occurs behind closed doors.

Lies We Tell is a satisfying and thoughtful thriller, speaking the language of culture and honour, responsibility and emotions, with welcome moments of with comedic relief, and a strong cast. A prophetic ending strongly shows the dangers of this murky world, and the danger, and finding of ourselves.

– written by Sebastian Karamyar

DVD will be out from 2nd April 2018

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