Lies We Tell Review
Lies We Tell is a 2018 drama about a trusted driver who must deal with his dead boss’ Muslim mistress, her dark past pulling him into a life-and-death showdown with her notorious gangster cousin/ex-husband.
At the heart of Mitu Misra‘s new film Lies We Tell is an unconventional multicultural relationship with surprising depth. It is portrayed with genuinely earnest performances and no matter the eventual lackluster outcome of the film itself, is deserving of praise. Lies We Tell has a good story to tell but is hampered by its looseness, uneven direction, and some unconvincing action, leaving this a film with great promise but ultimately unable to capitalize on its potential.
As the film begins, wealthy Demi Lamprose (Harvey Keitel) has his driver Donald (Gabriel Byrne) bring him to his mistress’ apartment, a place Demi pays for. However, not long after, we cut to a funeral, learning that Demi has suddenly died, leaving Donald with a singular request: clean out the apartment and ‘all’ its contents so as to shed his legacy of any indiscretions. Donald complies and finds Amber (Sibylla Deen), a beautiful Muslim, Pakistani women inside, unaware that Demi has passed. Devastated, she in turn has a request for Donald: please get Demi’s phone and delete what are some scandalous images of her and Lamprose, of which would ruin her reputation in her strict family home. As the two spend more time together, a bond forms as we learn that both she and he have personal trouble in their lives, bringing them that much closer.
I need it to be clear that both Byrne and Deen are very good. The platonic relationship these two build as Donald and Amber is authentic and honest, the actors convincingly burdened and deeply true to their characters. Donald is served with divorce papers and this combined with the loss of his boss leaves him a stoic man who has great impact in several crucial moments. Deen is equally jarring, playing a woman we aren’t quite sure how to feel about until she wholly earns our sympathies. Amber has left her husband, an abusive gangster who is now after her sixteen-year-old sister, and is seeking a college education. The relationship between Donald and Amber is dynamic and moving, one the movie handles best.
Where it all sort of stumbles though is with Misra’s pacing and meandering direction, along with some supporting roles that don’t hold up. The film juggles themes of prejudice, culture clash and misogyny, and we journey through all parts of both sides of Donald and Amber’s lives in experiencing that, though Misra can’t quite patch it together with the focus it needs. Scenes shift with ambiguity and there is little momentum. A manipulative emotive piano score constantly flittering about also feels manufactured to elicit swells from the audience, failing to feel earned.
Still, some might appreciate the slow and gentle take the film maintains, less caring of the flaws. Misra, in his directorial debut, has solid ambitions and has plenty here to grow from. However, the story is the thing and it’s rare to see a film embrace a relationship like this, leaving the two leads a reason to watch.
Lies We Tell Review
Movie description: Lies We Tell is a 2018 drama about a trusted driver who must deal with his dead boss' Muslim mistress, her dark past pulling him into a life-and-death showdown with her notorious gangster cousin/ex-husband.
Director(s): Mitu Misra
Actor(s): Gabriel Byrne, Sibylla Deen, Mark Addy