L.I.E., Paul Franklin Dano
  • Movie

You know you’re in the hands of a born filmmaker when he floods a scene with danger and excitement and, at the same time, tempers it with something more delicate — a languor of the everyday. Michael Cuesta, who cowrote and directed L.I.E., a drama set in the gray-skies suburban netherworld off the Long Island Expressway, has that gift for quiet lyrical disturbance. He creates a confidential portrait of alienated yet dreamy teenage boys who lounge around, break into tract houses, and indulge in a combative closeness that casually slips into the homoerotic. The cautious, cowlicked Howie (Paul Franklin Dano) and his punked-out hustler friend, Gary (Billy Kay), are like Tom and Huck gone nihilistic, and Cuesta does brilliant work with both young actors; each is a potential star. Intriguing, but less convincing, is Howie’s relationship with Big John (Brian Cox), a blustery ex-Marine who spends his days cruising the neighborhood for adolescent boys. Cox is a great actor, but Cuesta, in trying to cast this chicken hawk as queasily sympathetic, makes him at once predator and saint.

  • Movie
  • 108 minutes
  • Michael Cuesta