What could have been just another of the countless coming-of-age tracts churned out on the indie-sector conveyor belt each year becomes a deeply nuanced drama full of original angles in Michael Cuesta’s accomplished feature bow, “L.I.E.”
Central character, adolescent Howie (Paul Franklin Dano), is introduced precariously balancing on the expressway overpass, his voiceover recalling the number of lives claimed on the road, from celebrities like Harry Chapin and Alan J. Pakula to his mother years earlier. He barely communicates with his building contractor father, Marty (Bruce Altman), who’s preoccupied with sleeping with his girlfriend and his mounting legal problems over a fire probe into the use of unsafe materials.
Howie is part of a quartet of friends who occasionally break into the neighborhood’s upper-middle-class houses. His closest friend in the group is sexually precocious wiseass Gary (Billy Kay).
As the bond between them intensifies, Howie becomes slowly aware that his feelings for Gary may run deeper than friendship, while Gary in turn flirts and encourages the affection, suggesting they run off together to California. The first glitch happens when they rob the home of respected neighborhood figure Big John (Cox), leaving behind evidence that allows him to track down Howie. A regular at the expressway shoulder where young guys cruise and turn tricks, Big John is one of countless Long Island men who, unbeknownst to Howie, have sampled Gary’s wares.
When Gary takes off alone for California, Howie is left to deal with Big John’s demands for the return of his property, and when Marty is arrested, Howie’s sense of abandonment becomes complete, drawing him closer to Big John. But the boy’s vulnerability stirs an unexpected response in the older man. (Variety)
898MB | 1:33:18 | 624×336 | avi
Subtitles: French, German, Spanish, Hungarian, Brazillian-Portugese (.srt)