fri 12/04/2024

DVD/Download: Lies We Tell | reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Download: Lies We Tell

DVD/Download: Lies We Tell

Uneven but brave attempt at Yorkshire noir

'We've only got a few minutes...' Gabriel Byrne and Harvey Keitel

The story behind the making of first-time director Mitu Misra’s Lies We Tell is often easier to make sense of than what happens in the film: Misra realised the project with money from his double-glazing business and plenty of bull-headed persistence.

Its various disparate elements don’t all co-exist happily, notably a phoned-in cameo from Harvey Keitel as ageing businessman Demi.

Despite Keitel’s top billing, his character dies within the first two minutes, the video evidence of his extra-curricular activities the MacGuffin which propels the story. Get past the risible opening sequence (yes, that is Toyah Willcox) and things do become much more involving. Even the casting of echt-Irishman Gabriel as Keitel’s dour chauffeur Donald, pulling off a pretty convincing Yorkshire accent. Donald receives posthumous instructions to hide any evidence of Demi’s ongoing affair with Sibylla Deen’s Amber, a feisty Muslim woman juggling the various roles she’s expected to play – daughter, lover and successful lawyer.Jan Uddin and Sibylla Deen in Lies We Tell

What ensues is an uneven culture-clash thriller, Donald discovering his inner hero within whilst exploring a world totally unfamiliar to him, namely inner-city Bradford. A "Unesco City of Film", no less, and one which even Byrne admits in a bonus interview “gets a bad rap”.

Bradford here does look incredibly photogenic and alluring, thanks to Bollywood veteran Santosh Sivan’s cinematography. Ilkley Moor gets a hefty supporting role, and there’s even a scene filmed in the cemetery where Tom Courtney’s Billy Liar hung out back in 1963.

Misra and his screenwriter Ewen Glass don’t sentimentalise Amber’s home life, and the seedy glamour of the city’s criminal underworld is convincingly portrayed. Jan Uddin’s JD (pictured above, with Sibylla Deen) is a charismatic villain, a man of crude habits and terrible tastes in interior furnishings. Mark Addy provides some welcome light relief, but a criminally under-used Gina McKee is wasted in a single scene.

Alas, things unravel a little too crazily in the final act, and Zbigniew Preisner’s gloopy soundtrack becomes a constant distraction. Extras include deleted scenes plus interviews with selected cast and crew. Byrne is likeable and generous to a fault, and Deen gives us an entertaining anecdote involving a defecating owl.

Bradford here does look incredibly photogenic and alluring


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters