The United Kingdom has seen a rise in knife violence over the last few years. According to data compiled in the middle of this year, the uptick in crime involves these sharp objects mainly in assault cases, though homicides and robberies are listed as primary reasons as well. In an apparent response to try and understand the mindset of the people perpetrating such violence, writer-director Jamie Noel helmed Lie Low, his feature-length debut.
Parnell (Aaron Thomas Ward) and his mother Maggie (Debra Baker) head to France to see Esme (Elina Saleh), his sister/her daughter. The reason for this sudden intrusion is because Parnell got into a street fight, though their eldest sibling Marty (Taz Skylar) intervened to save his life.
Esme and her boyfriend Alfie (Jake Phillips Head) are not entirely pleased with her family showing up unannounced. This stems from unresolved demons from the past that Bill (Johnny Vivash), Alfie’s father, hopes to talk through and help everyone find peace. Meanwhile, back in the UK, the brother of the victim is tracking down all possible leads to get vengeance on Marty.
“…Parnell got into a street fight, though their eldest sibling Marty intervened to save his life.”
Lie Low has a lot to praise from a technical standpoint. The acting is the biggest standout. Everyone does a remarkable job of making their often underwritten characters feel realistic and empathetic. While Saleh looks nothing like Baker, Ward, or Skylar (those three are reasonably similar enough looking) buying her as family is a bit tough, she has terrific chemistry with everyone. When she’s apologizing for trying to force her mom to do the right thing (aka call the cops), she’s believable and really does seem like she wants to do the right thing.
Debra Baker is just as good. Parnell snaps and cusses her out, and Baker’s flabbergasted reaction is heartbreaking. Ward is relatable as the hooligan who sees double standards in society. Vivash gets the most comedic role as Bill, and he is quite fun. As the put upon boyfriend, Head offers sympathy and grounds the more hysterical family members in a realistic way.
Lie Low also features stunning cinematography. Jamie Noel was the director of photography as well and offers several gorgeous takes. The opening prologue, lasting roughly 3-minutes, is dialogue-free and brilliantly establishes the crime and the escape with urgency and a visually hypnotizing manner. A sequence involving a drunk Maggie running through the streets offers beautiful vistas and great, moody lighting.
"…Noel is a vastly superior director than he is a writer."