The Lie has a short and sweet premise; to what lengths are parents willing to go to protect their children? What chaos will their desperation reap to hide their flesh-and-blood sociopath, one hidden in the form of a kind-eyed girl who can cry on command?
And while it’s not an uncommon story element, The Lie is one of the more recent films that left me with this impending sense of dread with each minute.
The film introduces a divorced couple, Jay (Peter Sarsgaard) and Rebecca (Mireille Enos), who share custody of their teen daughter Kayla (Joe King). We witness the strain of the situation, and Kayla seems to be hiding some depression as she’s trudging through being delivered to the retreat that she no longer wants to attend. On the way to this retreat, Jay gives a ride to a ballet-mate of Kayla’s who stranded at a bus stop. Both girls are awkward together, Kayla’s friend asks for pee break, and Jay gives them some privacy … which he soon regrets after hearing a sharp scream.
Kayla weepily explains that she accidentally pushed her friend over the bridge and into the river with they were joshing around. Okay, no big deal, right? Teens can overreact, just as much as the adults they model. Except it’s the middle of winter, and Kayla’s friend has plummeted to an icy demise, swept away from the river without a hope of being retrieved.
Jay is stunned, his sole focus on protecting his daughter. Soon, Rebecca is brought into the situation and goes into battle-plan mode, but finds herself unraveling as their lie — that they have no idea where the missing girl is — runs astray. The missing girl’s father is distraught, detectives start to see the loose threads, and Kayla isn’t doing a very good job holding it together, especially as she explains that she wanted to kill her friend for pissing her off.
The Lie: My impression
Obviously, this film treads predictable waters, but what really sets it apart is that as much as I loathed how the characters were reacting, I secretly hated how much of myself I saw in them.
Maybe I shouldn’t have kids, I thought to myself as I secretly plotted out how I’d hide my own tracks if I was a parent in this situation.
I’ve been angry enough to want to push someone over a bridge. (Like Kayla.) I’ve been protective enough to want to shield friends and my husband from tense situations (that they may not have been on the right side of — Like Jay.) I’ve also been strategic enough that I could also see myself going into a detached strategy that might want to throw the divert the blame on a bystander to protect my loved one. (Like Rebecca.)
I am so, so torn on this film. The filmography is beautiful and clean, the acting is phenomenal, but the entire experience was so freakin’ stressful. I just wanted to both hug and slap each of the main characters as they went through the paces of hiding and complicating the lie. If you look watching a good drama with some great acting, especially how excellent Peter Sarsgaard is with dad angst, I recommend it. If you like to pick apart movies, maybe try another one of Blumhouse’s new releases on Amazon Prime Video. I won’t judge!