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By Merle Bertrand | June 7, 2001

What a different world it would be if people could actually see what we were thinking as we were talking to them. In director Simon Ellis’ clever short film “Telling Lies,” he gives us precisely that ability.
Even though they broke up the night before, Sarah is still jealous that Phil went home with another woman. Not so upset, however, that it prevented her from sleeping with Phil’s best friend. In “Telling Lies,” Ellis lets us eavesdrop on an increasingly outlandish series of phone conversations between Phil and Sarah, Phil and his older paramour, and Phil and his sheepish buddy.
Yet, we’re not just eavesdropping aurally. We’re (perhaps literally) inside their heads. The screen is black throughout this entire film, save for a rapid-fire, text-only commentary which runs as a real-time counterpoint to what the characters are saying…and gives away what they’re really thinking.
Such a simple idea. Such a tremendous hoot. Ellis executes this gimmick to perfection. Whether it’s something as simple as changing a single word, or as involved as adding an unspoken thought, the dialogue and its accompanying text complement each other with hilarious effect.
“Telling Lies” is a difficult film to describe. But if this playful, staccato-paced text-fest happens to pop up at a film festival near you, I highly suggest checking it out. And that’s no lie.

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