mon 13/07/2020

Dangerous Lies, Netflix review - slick silliness | reviews, news & interviews

Dangerous Lies, Netflix review - slick silliness

Dangerous Lies, Netflix review - slick silliness

Hoary hokum about a dodgy inheritance is Dickensian in the worst way

Dumb waiter? Katie (Camila Mendes) and Adam (Jessie T Usher)

When not dipping into its bottomless debts to write Scorsese blank cheques, Netflix tends to favour old-school TV movie potboilers such as this slick, silly thriller, in which young couple Katie (Camila Mendes) and Adam (Jessie T Usher) have their moral flaws picked apart by financial temptation.

Katie’s work as a Chicago waitress ends in a violent robbery, while her day-job working for rich old loner Leonard (Elliot Gould, pictured below) finds her inheriting not only his lakeside mansion, but a secret treasure chest of cash and diamonds. “I’m just sick of being poor,” impetuous Adam declares, when this windfall’s tainted nature and the chance of tumbling back to financial earth become clear.Leonard (Elliot Gould) in Dangerous LiesGould’s credibility-lending cameo gives his gravelly old-timer a childlike openness, much like the slightly slow-witted sap he played when taken for a ride by Warren Beatty in Bugsy. Mendes is all perky, brisk innocence. Usher, meanwhile, gives his underserved, foolish character more sympathy than the script, digging into its sole crevice of ambiguity. When this hot-headed liability of a boyfriend mutters “whatever that means” after being glibly refused a job, he hints at a young black man’s frustratingly intangible suspicions when prospects fall through. He’s the couple’s ambitious half, first seen cracking books on “contemporary sociological analysis” and promising he’ll support Katie “in the style you deserve”. She’s simply kind and sensible, a very old-fashioned heroine in a male-created, female-focused tale, much like a daytime soap.    

Tangled coincidences and intricate schemes abound, in a tale as brazenly hoary as its treasure chest. David Golden’s screenplay requires manic paranoia for his characters to do anything other than inherit a big house and live happily ever after. When an 88-year-old loner on heavy medication quietly dies in his armchair with the needle stuck in the groove of his favourite 78, why does glamorous police detective Chesler (Sasha Alexander) drop everything to investigate? Why do our impecunious young couple (who already rent a perfectly nice flat) want to live in a money pit mansion with no visible means of support, instead of quickly cashing it in? Why does the local bank robber look so shiftily unshaven when casing a joint for his loot?Adam (Jessie T. Usher) and Katie (Camila Mendes) in Dangerous LiesGolden raids the hack storehouse’s dustiest cupboard for his yarn, where an eccentric millionaire’s house of secrets, knotty inheritance, brutish robbers and shifty lawyers await in a Victorian plot Dickens would deride as decidedly moth-eaten. The fact that this jalopy’s motor still runs thanks to our instinctive sympathy with its wronged woman is Dangerous Lies’ purest pleasure.

Sex, violence and scares stay at a subdued, Nancy Drew level, in the sort of hokum lockdown makes passable. Such meat-and-potatoes storytelling can actually be more satisfyingly nutritious than the steroidal budgets and mechanical contrivances of mainstream studio product. Unpretentious B-movies meet undemanding viewers midway, and there’s often little more in the soul of a Tom Cruise blockbuster. But Dangerous Lies cashes in credibility and imagination too meekly. Rather than the film noir suggested by the camera’s opening swoop through a neon-streaked puddle towards a diner, or the sleazy erotic thriller which is the genre’s latter-day debasement, it settles for simple child’s play.

Sex, violence and scares stay subdued, in the sort of hokum lockdown makes passable

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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