This year’s Sundance Film Festival will likely go down in history as “the one with all the cult films,” meaning literal cult films, like films about cults, not box office flops that later gain traction with college kids who are into dress-up. But in between the more buzzed-about titles like Martha Marcy May Marlene and Sound of My Voice, Sundance 2011 also provided a proving ground for films focused on the intricacies of intimacy – namely, how honesty (and the lack of it) between partners can make or break a relationship. Miranda July’s The Future did it with a twee sweetness, and Joshua Leonard’s The Lie did it with a much darker bitterness.
And that doesn’t quite explain the first poster for the film (which Leonard also directed from a T.C. Boyle story and some material from Jeff Feuerzeig that Leonard, Jess Weixler, and Mark Webber cobbled into their own screenplay), which makes the film looks like a new version of The Hangover, starring one man and one “soul crusher” baby. Check it out, along with a mini rant by me about it, after the break.
The film stars Leonard and Weixler as a young married couple, a hip sort of pair that once put their big talk about saving the world into actual action (along with their best friend, played by Webber). But once they have a kid, real world obligations set in, and all that idealism begins to crumble under the weight of things like paying the bills or getting good insurance or finding a babysitter. Which all leads up the film’s titular lie, one told by Leonard’s character Lonnie in a moment of loathing (of the self-based and the work-driven varieties, a terrible combo if there ever was one). That lie spirals totally out of control, a fib with after-effects strong enough to ruin Leonard’s entire life (this is not a hyperbolic statement in the least).
This first poster dumbs down all the emotion that goes into the film, casting Lonnie as a hapless dad who is a slave to that cute kiddo next to him. In reality, the film is much less about the baby – it’s about Lonnie and his inability to react appropriately to his life. That is compounded by the lie, which soon involves lying to his lovely wife (Weixler, in a particularly wonderful and finely nuanced performance). While the poster does pepper in some great quotes about the film, that imagery is a strong, convential-looking, and totally inappropriate in regards to the actual film. There are no hijinks in The Lie. There is no accidental drugging in The Lie. There are no wacky car chases in The Lie.
The Lie is, however, a damn fine film. Just ignore this poster and trust me – would I lie to you?
The Lie opens in limited theaters and on VOD on November 18. [The Playlist]