Dave (Lundon Boyd) and Eve (Megli Micek) are both lost in their lives. Eve, a child runaway, desperately wants to escape her foster family by heading to Colorado to be with her older brother Daniel (Charles Cantrell); Dave is a shiftless photographer with nothing going for him. Their paths cross when, one night, a drunk Dave stumbles to his car from the bar and finds young Eve hiding in the front seat. Dave’s life spirals out of control from there, with the sweet-seeming Eve taking advantage of her gullible new friend every chance she can to get what she wants. Dave is a manchild who needs to grow up, and Eve is a troubled child who grew up too soon. Lies are told, laws are broken and both characters learn from their journey together.
Filmmaker Jeremy Cloe’s Liars, Fires and Bears is a quality film that is extremely easy to watch and enjoy. Straightforward and well-written, it’s an indie film with heart, tackling the notion that there’s far more to family than just whose bloodline you share. Sound cheesy? It definitely could’ve been, but it isn’t.
Because this film could’ve gone wrong in so many different ways that I’ve even more impressed with everything it got right. It could’ve been melodramatic and manipulative, but instead it’s subtle and straightforward, with just enough character ambiguity to make both the optimistic and pessimistic viewer find different interpretations without the possible contradictions lessening the film (more on that in a second). On the comedy side, things get sufficiently screwed up but instead of going for zany and madcap, the film lets the strangeness of the scenario carry the humor while almost everyone, save one hilariously off-kilter pawn shop owner, plays the straight man.
And kudos for going the dramatic comedy route and nailing it, because this film could’ve gone horror-thriller just as easily (and here’s that difference in viewer perception I just mentioned). Eve’s character, while obviously a child, still has some pretty serious issues to deal with (running away from home is the least of the questionable choices she makes). By the end of the film, you don’t know if she’s on an upswing or just in a stable period before things get even worse. The optimistic among us, myself included, wants to think that the worst is behind her. The pessimistic could see this as prequel to some action series where she turns out to be some hardened criminal underworld assassin. Okay, so that could be kind of cool, especially if Dave winds up being a goofy Microchip to Eve’s Punisher. But I digress…
Liars, Fires and Bears is arguably a family-friendly film (albeit one with lying, arson and robbery), but not so saccharine sweet that it puts you off. It’s just a really good movie. Maybe it spends a bit too much time in the early sections away from Eve’s character while focusing on Dave’s, but that slight narrative imbalance is all I really felt was slightly off about the film, and even that is understandable. It doesn’t throw off the pace or the edit, and we need more back story on Dave anyway because, by the end, while Eve’s character grows too, Dave’s is the bigger internal journey. Eve’s trying to figure out where her life is going; Dave is trying to figure out how to course-correct after years of heading nowhere.
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