Director: Jonas and Josh Pate

A stylish and intelligently scripted thriller, Liar unfolds a crafty tale of intrigue and deceit and delivers on the promise of the first film by twin brothers Jonas and Josh Pate, The Grave. The new movie opens in a dingy interrogation room at a police station, where wealthy socialite John Wayland (Tim Roth) is being prepared for a lie-detector test by two detectives (Michael Rooker and Chris Penn) who suspect him of committing a murder. An alcoholic who suffers severe memory lapses, Wayland is nevertheless clever at twisting facts. Having the wealth and connections to access useful information, he learns of his interrogators’ own dark secrets and begins to turn the investigation around on them, questioning their ability to tell the truth.
The claustrophobic setting of the police station and the interweaving flashbacks create a real sense of suspense, and the plot twists are worthy of The Usual Suspects. Technically, the film is a tour-de-force, with veteran cinematographer Bill Butler (Jaws, Deliverance) creating a strong sense of unease through the use of distorting low angles, tight close-ups and agile tracking shots. But the movie is more than an exercise in style. The pates explore some interesting themes, such as the nature of truth and the secret lives that lie behind the characters’ tough facades. The three lead actors are all prime suspects for the crime movie genre (Roth and Penn of Reservoir Dogs fame, and Rooker of the infamous Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer), which suits the twists and turns of the plot. In a strong supporting cast, Ellen Burstyn makes a welcome appearance as a shadowy underworld figure who caters for everyone’s worst habits. On this evidence, we’ll be hearing a lot more form the formidable pate team.

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