This review was originally published on January 22, 2011…
Lonnie (Leonard) is an idealistic stoner who tarries away his days in a crappy job editing camera shots for burger commercials. He has a lovely, hard working wife (Weixler) and a darling baby girl. Lonnie hates his job and is becoming very confused about his place in this world and, oh yeah, Lonnie is also a big ole liar. As the film opens we find out pretty quickly that Lonnie isn’t afraid to stretch the truth to get what he wants. But soon his lies escalate and before we or even he knows it, he’s created a jumbo-sized one that will change his life forever. And trust me, it’s a whopper.
Thus is the basic plotline for Josh Leonard’s feature directorial debut, “The Lie” which is based on a short story by T.C. Boyle. In the film Leonard glows brightly as an actor but shines mightily as a director both visually and in the way he stays true to Boyle’s loveable yet degenerate characters who no matter what they do and what their intentions might be, you can’t help but love them. Or at least, like them alot.
Even though Lonnie is screwing up big time and things are quickly getting out of hand, I never felt as though he was a bad person or doing things to hurt people. As a guy in my late thirties, the issues of your life becoming something you never dreamed of it becoming are often tangible and I completely related with the Lonnie character. He has a solid support system in friends like wandering hippie Tank (Webber) and wife Clover. She tries to give him a wide yet supportive berth for him to feel o.k. about life but it’s just not enough for a guy who’s either really lazy or truly struggling with who he is and where he belongs. Probably a little bit of both.
“The Lie” is not only really funny, it’s also intriguing and tension-filled. As Lonnie’s lie speeds out of control we never know what will happen next and the tension is fun but panic-inducing. Leonard gets an outstanding performance out of Jess Weixler who plays her role quietly and relies on her eyes and facial expressions to do much of the acting work. She’s very much the straight man to Lonnie’s madness and she’s solid and endearing in the role. The film also looks beautiful thanks to the golden hour shooting, use of warm, woodsy tones and the eye of Benjamin Kasulke who’s building up a pretty killer resume and who’s work is ubiquitous on the film festival circuit. “The Lie” is a sweet little indie film that will resonate for just about anyone be it a lonely bachelor, a wild party girl or a couple looking for a nice date night movie. It’s funny, touching and truthful and it’s total lack of cynicism is rare but very welcome.