L.I.E. (2001)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Coming-of-Age, Gay & Lesbian Films  |   Release Date - Sep 7, 2001 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NC17
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Review by Jason Clark

A difficult, tricky subject is given thoughtful, droll treatment by terrific first-time writer/director Michael Cuesta in this funny, revealing look at the unlikely bond between an aging ex-Marine who happens to like very young boys and a deserted 15-year old who enters his life. Instead of reveling in smutty put-ons and generalizations about pedophilia and teenage rebellion, the movie looks deeper at the complexities of its highly intriguing male characters and becomes an acute study of behavior and loneliness. The film is successful mostly due to the superlative performances in the lead roles by Brian Cox and Paul Franklin Dano, both of whom inject emotional validity and uncommon depth into characters that could have been lazily conceived. Their relationship unfolds in a refreshing, naturalistic fashion, and until the hollow final scenes (which wrap the movie up far too neatly), it never hits a single false note in the execution. A fine feature debut, markedly better than many recent independents due to its sensitive portrait of troubled individuals, the film premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival but took some time finding a distributor due to its strong subject matter and ratings board disputes. (The film received an NC-17 upon submission, which seems highly unwarranted.)