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Telling Lies in America

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”Write what you know” goes the saying, and Joe Eszterhas, scenarist of such lurid tales as Basic Instinct and Showgirls, finally got the message. A Hungarian emigre raised in Cleveland, Eszterhas has penned a 1960s drama, set in his hometown, about an immigrant teen trying to fit in that’s charming, sincere, and subtle — qualities no one could attribute to his previous scripts — and adapts beautifully to the tube. Playing Karchy, a peach-faced Renfro deftly melds tongue-tied yearning and desperate drive, while Bacon, as the deejay who hires the unwitting boy as his payola courier, grins and murmurs with the insinuating intimacy of a serpent. A couple of melodramatic subplots aside, the overall effect of Telling Lies in America is bracingly adult, in the best sense. B+