Lie With Me - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary By Director Clement Virgo; Making Of Featurette; Trailer.
MUCH like foreplay, sex films always arouse plenty of interest in the build up to the event before the final result ends up being something of an anti-climax.
Michael Winterbottom’s Nine Songs is a classic case in point – a grubby, pointless little film that’s singular selling point eventually became its biggest downfall. That’s to say, too much (real) sex and not enough story or characterisation.
Clement Virgo’s erotic Lie With Me flirts with similar criticisms. Based on Tamara Berger’s erotic novel of the same name (and her own screenplay), the film follows the thoughts, desires and actions of Leila (The L Word‘s Lauren Lee Smith), a sexually voracious young woman who enjoys the illicit thrill of a one-night stand, as well as the potential dangers.
The film gradually opens to reveal her masturbating to porn, before following her to a party where she meets and flirts with David (Eric Balfour, of Six Feet Under and 24), a similarly promiscuous cad.
Far from hooking up immediately, Leila ‘pulls’ another reveller and takes him outside to perform fellatio, only to be watched by David as he is ‘serviced’ by his own girlfriend.
The two then run into each other the next day and eventually go back to David’s where they have the sexual intercourse that’s long been hinted.
It’s only then that they bother about introducing themselves to each other and discuss the possibility of a first date.
But while the sex continues to remain thrilling, Leila slowly comes to realise that David wants more from the relationship and ponders the question: “How can you have sex with someone you love?”
To complicate matters, both Leila and David have outside issues to deal with – her mother and father have just announced their intentions to split, while David’s disabled father needs constant care and attention.
It’s clear that sex is a tool for both of them to escape from their everyday stress and insecurities.
But as is so often the case with book to film translations, what works well in text struggles to translate to film.
Lie With Me provides a much better stab at eroticism than the likes of Nine Songs but is far from a satisfying experience.
On the plus side, the attractive leads commit themselves wholeheartedly to the cause and it’s certainly interesting to find a sex film that takes the point of view of a female protagonist.
It’s also somewhat refreshing to find that the director stops just short of producing the type of “cum-shot” that makes Nine Songs and even the likes of Red Road and Shortbus so eyebrow raising.
It’s raunchy, yes, and you have to question how far the actors went with each other, but many of the scenes are tastefully lit and artfully posed, occasionally to the detriment of the realism. This still feels like Hollywood art-porn rather than warts-and-all hardcore porn (I mean, you don’t really need to see the semen that some films insist on showing you).
But while there’s plenty of sex, Virgo doesn’t really afford his actors the chance to fully expose their inner feelings. They’re naked for three quarters of the time but a lot of what makes them tick – and by extension identifiable – remains covered up.
Reasons for Leila’s promiscuity are only hinted at, while David is rarely afforded the opportunity to divulge what’s really driving him. Virgo often misses the opportunity to let his characters really have it out with each other and even wastes some scenes by allowing the score to drown out what they’re saying to each other.
Hence, what could have been really deep and meaningful ends up being just another film that’s more interested in censor-baiting. It has a curiosity value attached to it but the end result is ultimately disappointing.
Running time: 90mins