Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Liars All

A would-be Rashomon is too callow to take very seriously.

June 20, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1379758-Liars_All_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

“Truth or Dare” turns deadly in Brian Brightly's Liars All, a mystery that aims to update Rashomon storytelling with a Shakespeare twist but plays more like a TV policier made for the “90210” crowd. Box-office prospects are modest for a film whose biggest names are vets of that TV reboot and whose dramatic tension, such as it is, is neutered by a needlessly chaotic structure.

Set in London, the story concerns a group of acquaintances whose New Year's Eve debauchery led to the shooting death of a troubled woman named Missy (Gillian Zinser). Only two young men witnessed the event: Mike (Matt Lanter), a dreamy hunk whose love for Missy was unrequited, and Dennis (Torrance Coombs), the caddish football star who got her pregnant, dumped her and is now engaged to a pop singer.

As these two and their fellow partygoers are questioned by a skeptical detective (Alice Evans), competing explanations for the death play out in flashback form. Missy killed herself, hoping her ex would take the blame; she was trying to scare Dennis and accidentally got shot in the ensuing excitement; and so on. Setting the stage for these unreliable narrators is a more-or-less agreed-upon account of the party leading up to the accident, in which artsy temptress Missy (Zinser plays trouble with a capital T) initiates a game that is, in the parlance of our times, "Truth or Dare—but amped."

The drunken, druggy party offers plenty of vectors of sexual and romantic desire, not to mention friction between the newly famous athlete and the bookish Mike, who swoons over an idealized memory of Missy but is stuck videotaping her present misbehavior. (Equally innocent Katie, played by Sara Paxton, would love to mend his broken heart.) Instead of building these conflicts over the course of the evening, though, Brightly uses competing flashbacks that make it hard to invest in the emotions of characters that are thinly drawn to begin with. Sifting through the self-absorbed narratives before her, Evans looks less like an investigator than a mother who can't figure out how she ended up with such insubstantial children.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Liars All

A would-be Rashomon is too callow to take very seriously.

June 20, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1379758-Liars_All_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

“Truth or Dare” turns deadly in Brian Brightly's Liars All, a mystery that aims to update Rashomon storytelling with a Shakespeare twist but plays more like a TV policier made for the “90210” crowd. Box-office prospects are modest for a film whose biggest names are vets of that TV reboot and whose dramatic tension, such as it is, is neutered by a needlessly chaotic structure.

Set in London, the story concerns a group of acquaintances whose New Year's Eve debauchery led to the shooting death of a troubled woman named Missy (Gillian Zinser). Only two young men witnessed the event: Mike (Matt Lanter), a dreamy hunk whose love for Missy was unrequited, and Dennis (Torrance Coombs), the caddish football star who got her pregnant, dumped her and is now engaged to a pop singer.

As these two and their fellow partygoers are questioned by a skeptical detective (Alice Evans), competing explanations for the death play out in flashback form. Missy killed herself, hoping her ex would take the blame; she was trying to scare Dennis and accidentally got shot in the ensuing excitement; and so on. Setting the stage for these unreliable narrators is a more-or-less agreed-upon account of the party leading up to the accident, in which artsy temptress Missy (Zinser plays trouble with a capital T) initiates a game that is, in the parlance of our times, "Truth or Dare—but amped."

The drunken, druggy party offers plenty of vectors of sexual and romantic desire, not to mention friction between the newly famous athlete and the bookish Mike, who swoons over an idealized memory of Missy but is stuck videotaping her present misbehavior. (Equally innocent Katie, played by Sara Paxton, would love to mend his broken heart.) Instead of building these conflicts over the course of the evening, though, Brightly uses competing flashbacks that make it hard to invest in the emotions of characters that are thinly drawn to begin with. Sifting through the self-absorbed narratives before her, Evans looks less like an investigator than a mother who can't figure out how she ended up with such insubstantial children.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

The Congress
Film Review: The Congress

Part live-action, part cornea-searing animation, this cinematic overload is ambitious but ultimately fatigues as it plays with the intriguing notion of a fading Hollywood star selling rights so her cyberspace avatar can rise to superstardom and stay forever young in virtual reality. Flashy animation and cynical stabs at celebrity culture and movie-studio finagling keep things lively for a while. More »

The Last of Robin Hood
Film Review: The Last of Robin Hood

Serviceable vehicle for a salacious story. More »

Last Weekend
Film Review: Last Weekend

A sort of modern Chekhovian study of family tensions over a country weekend, this indie drama is very pretty to look at and at times disarming, but needed more punch. More »

The Notebook
Film Review: The Notebook

An aloof adaptation of Agota Kristof's best-seller that's technically impressive but precludes audience identification. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Film Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Neither significantly better nor worse than its predecessor, the belated Sin City sequel is more of a repeat, rather than a continuation, of the original. More »

If I Stay
Film Review: If I Stay

Delivers as promised. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here