Homosexuality and molestation are about as serious of topics as you can get, leaving one to ask how it is possible to discuss such issues in a even-handed and comfortable way? Director Michael Cuesta finds a way in his new film L.I.E.
While the title L.I.E. seems to hint to something simple, the films content presents the viewer with something quite challenging. The film centers its plot on the plight of 14-year-old Howie Blitzer (Paul Franklin Delano) as he struggles with family, friendship as well as more serious issues such as homosexuality and pedophilia.
The viewer is challenged beyond all conventional norms of standard morality as Cuesta gives birth to a twisted sense of moral and emotional duality throughout his film’s duration.
While the superficial world around Cuesta’s main character seems to be everything a young teen could hope for, his inner workings show a young boy tormented by reality. Howie’s torment is rooted in the untimely death of his mother in a car accident on combined with an unstable family life. As a result, Howie mingles with a crowd of delinquents who get their kicks by breaking into houses.
It is here Howie’s struggles begin, as he takes on awareness to a new desire, deeply focused in the struggling realization of his homosexuality. While such a topic may not at first seem risque, throw in his actions involving a relationship with an elderly Marine veteran “Big” John Harrigan (Brian Cox).
As shocking and disturbing as it may seem, Cuesta actually pulls it off, presenting the viewer with a pedophile who prides himself on becoming a surrogate father to his lover. This is where the film’s challenge comes in as it presents the relationship as one of care and concern rather than perversion. ‘
Outside the film’s “thin ice” topic of pedophilia, it carries its own unique brand of emotional and mental duality throughout. Scenes are first presented as horrendous and disturbing. Somehow though they bring themselves to a tender and heart-warming conclusion.
Where the plots takes itself to a scene of sorrow, it cuts to a scene of laughter. If a moment of aggression is presented, almost certainly a moment of sympathy is near by. Such contrasts are presented throughout the film and are quite effective in balancing the emotions of the viewer.
Such masterful duality is the hallmark of L.I.E. Its precision in taking the viewer from one extreme to the other, while carrying a sensitive topic matter, does so in a way far exceeding its simple and humble title.
L.I.E. is in theatres now.