A remarkable movie. L.I.E. centers on Howie, a 15-year-old boy whose mother recently died in a car accident. Neglected by his father, an unscrupulous contractor who's constantly having sex with his new girlfriend, Howie fa... more »lls in with a group of boys who break into houses for kicks. After one break-in Howie is caught by Big John (Brian Cox, the original Hannibal Lecter from Manhunter), a former Marine with a taste for young boys. But the relationship that develops between Howie and Big John surprises them both. L.I.E. captures male adolescence more genuinely than any other film in recent memory; the realism of the relationships, particularly between Howie and his father, is completely compelling. The movie affects all the senses; you can practically feel the texture of Howie's blue flannel sheets, smell the greenery that grows along the Long Island Expressway. Amazing performances, vivid direction, smartly written--superb all around. --Bret Fetzer« less
Stephen W. (thegreatest) from PORT HURON, MI Reviewed on 9/27/2009...
This was a different type of movie. Not easily explainable, but I was hypnotized by it! The acting was solid, the story is a little bit "edgy". I liked it, but it probably will only appeal to a certain crowd.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
All the light and dark of the heart
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is not surprising to me that viewers are so quick to bandy labels around while discussing L.I.E.. Pigeonholes make matters of the heart that are otherwise complicated and hazy, easy to deal with for those who hate to think or be challenged. If that's what the creators of this excellent film wanted to do, they would've issued out black and white cowboy hats to the actors.But this movie is not simplistic. Listening to the commentaries by both the director, Michael Cuesta, and Brian Cox (Big John), I noticed that neither ever utters the word "pedophile" in relation to Big John (In fact, the film itself shows he not only desires young teenagers, but young, adult men of 18-21 range, and women as well). Nor do they peg Howie as a "gay youth"--in fact, they both deny that Howie's sexual identity is set. That's because L.I.E. is not about categories, it is about the complexities of the human heart that lie beneath the surface.For myself, L.I.E. is about two things: (1) discovering the difference between love and lust, and (2) the fundamental condition of human loneliness and our search for honest intimacy. After the recent death of his mother, Howie has just discovered deep loneliness and is trying to resolve it as fast as he can; running away to California for adventure with a rebellious, sexy friend seems like the magic pill/instant cure for all his problems. As for Big John, years before the time of this film he decided to quench his loneliness in shallow sex with males of various ages, and in creating broad yet shallow relationships with the prominent members of his community. Yet he's never allowed anyone to get inside and really touch his heart, apparently not even his current adult lover/roommate.Suddenly, Howie is confronted with this man, who unlike Howie's father or friends, has answers to his questions about his worth and place in the world (and also knowledge of sex, which is a big part of life for a teenager). Simultaneously, the once-"Big" John is rendered small and weak in the face of the quiet grandeur and adolescent vulnerability of Howie's gentle, honest nature. For a moment, their lives intersect and neither of them knows quite what to do...both are in foreign territory, and both walk away with something they never had before. Howie walks away with the knowledge of his own value as a human being (hence, he's able to assert himself in confrontation with his father later in the film, and proclaim himself to the world), and John walks away knowing that he's made a permanent and vital difference in the life of another person, and that he's finally loved someone else, truly and completely.This film should not be missed, misunderstood or pigeonholed and forgotten. It is a boundary-breaker that speaks of the need for love and intimacy that lies most deeply in the human soul, regardless of superficial appearances."
L.I.E. simply amazing
Ron Thibodeau | Boston, MA United States | 09/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just came home from the Boston Film Festival's opening night performance of L.I.E. I was blown away. Brian Cox turns in what may be this year's best performance as a pedophile who ends up becoming a father figure of sorts to a young troubled teen who has robbed his house. Not once did this movie or any of its performances seem false, or forced. The story of young Howie Blitzer's coming of age amidst family problems (his mother's recent death, his father's involvement in a lawsuit involving improper building materials, or the slightly homo-erotic feelings that seem to swirl in the air when he is hanging with his "buds") is an amazing journey to watch. It is inevetibaly a sad tone that takes over the film, while young Howie tries to find his place to fit in his world, while it seems that everyone around him seems to leave. Great film, amazing performances, highly recommended. (In regards to the NC-17 rating, not once is there any nudity, or innappropriate or over the top sexual situations. Apparently, the MPAA felt that the subject matter alone was enough to warrant the rating of NC-17. It is too bad, too, because this is one of the year's best films and deserves to be seen)"
A controversial, disturbing, wonderfully brilliant film!
Peter Carlson | Allentown, PA | 03/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Too many people require a big round of applause for this marvelous film. Michael Cuesta's first feature length film is extremely controversial, and at some times disturbing. Yet it is remarkably well written, well directed, and well acted. Howie(a stunning performance by newbie actor Paul Franklin Dano) is a 15 year old boy growing up in Long Island. His mother was killed on the L.I.E(long island expressway), his estranged father hardly knows him, he only has 1 friend who is planning on leaving for california. So needless to say Howie has nothing. This movie is a coming of age story where howie befriends a pederast named Big John(brilliantlly portrayed by veteran actor Brian Cox, the original Hannibal Lector) who ends up becomming a father figure to Howie. There are homosexual references in the movie, but this is not a movie about homosexuality. There are references to pedophillia in the movie, but this is not a movie about pedophillia. It is a story about a boy who finds that important something in his life that is missing. This movie is controversial because one of the main characters is a pedophile; yet when you see what importance he has on Howies' life you begin to feel sympathetic for the man. Regardless of this, there are no inapropriate sex scenes, over the top violence, or extreme vulgar language that you find in most movies today. Yet this was unfortunetly given an NC-17 rating, stopping many people from viewing this terrific film. Keep an open mind when watching this film and take it for what it is, an extremely down to earth, emotional coming of age story. I honestly cannot give enough praise to director Michael Cuesta and actors Paul Franklin Dano and Brian Cox. Independent or not, this has to be one of the best films of 2001 - A must see for any movie fan!"
A disturbing, powerful piece of cinematic artistry
Michael J. Mazza | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 03/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The title of the film "L.I.E." stands for the Long Island Expressway, a major road which could be seen as a metaphor for the "roads" of the characters' life choices. I also see the title as a dark pun on the "lies" that individuals tell to others, and possibly to themselves. Director Michael Cuesta (who also co-wrote the screenplay) brings to the film a real indie grittiness."L.I.E." focuses on the character of Howie (played by Paul Franklin Dano), a teenaged boy whose mother has perished in an L.I.E. crash. The film explores his troubled relationships with his father, with his thuggish "friends," and most shockingly, with a predatory older man (Brian Cox) who has a compulsive sexual fixation on teen boys."L.I.E." may sound like a blatant "issue" film about child molestation, but it's not. There are many different issues and character arcs at work in this compelling story. On a larger scale, the film is about such universal issues as loss, abandonment, betrayal, and longing.Contributing to this film's excellence are a trio of superb performances. Brian Cox has been justly celebrated for his performance as John Harrigan. Cox brings to life a character who is charming and funny, yet also grotesque, pathetic, and frightening. As Howie's friend Gary, Billy Kay is also amazing: his seductive, charismatic performance reminds me of that of Jude Law in "The Talented Mr. Ripley." But holding it all together is Paul Franklin Dano as Howie. His role is less "showy" than that of Cox or Kay, but he gives a nuanced, intelligent, deeply moving performance. These performances alone make "L.I.E." worth watching.There are some truly shocking and nihilistic images in this film; I imagine that it will be just too much for many to take. There is also a lot of humor, much of it dark or cynical, but almost always effective. Overall, the film has a symmetry and artistry which are subtle but impressive; a second viewing brought out some details that I hadn't fully appreciated the first time around. "L.I.E." is a truly remarkable film, one that I found to be intensely gripping from start to finish."
Howie and Big John Harrigan
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 09/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Big John Harrigan, played by Brian Cox in Michael Cuesta's "L.I.E," is a pedophile with possibly a heart of gold who starts up a relationship with Howie Blitzer (Paul Franklin Dano) after Howie and his pal Gary rob Big John's house. I am not convinced though, as some print and tv critics are saying, that Big John's motives are totally altruistic in regards to Howie if you consider only what is presented on the screen. Howie's mother has recently died and his father either ignores him or yells at him, so you can say that Howie has some deep rooted issues. On top of that Howie's sexuality is fuzzy and he definitely has a crush on Gary played magnetically by Billy Kay. When Howie's dad (Bruce Altman) is arrested for his involvement in a construction scam it is Big John that consoles Howie. But when Howie comes on to Big John in a tender, loving way Big John is repulsed. Why? Big John is only used to highway hustlers out to make a quick buck. This repulsion on Big John's part has been interpreted, wrongly I think to mean that Big John has a "lightbulb" moment and decides that his obvious attraction to Howie must remain platonic and fatherly. Not likely. In actuality, he's turned off by the affection and therefore spurns Howie's tender-hearted advances for the moment because he can't handle them. A scene or two later, Big John is back on the highway seeking what he knows best: the quick, loveless thrill. And this is what will keep him at arms length, as it were, from Howie. "L.I.E.," is therefore the story of a pedophile who cannot accept nor give love and not one who "sees the light" and
repents. Cuesta does a masterful job of pacing and revealing his character's quirks and Brian Cox once again turns in a sterling performance of a conflicted yet predatory character very similar to his fine work in "Manhunter." But I think it is with the young actors that Cuesta works the most magic: look for both Billy Kay and Paul Franklin Dano to do big things in the years to come."