“The Lie” has its origins in the 2015 German film “We Monsters (“Wir Monster”) and this remake stays true to its origins as it depicts the lengths parents will go to protect their child. Starring Joey King, Miereille Enos and Peter Sarsgaard, it’s a chilling concept of love, loyalty, and truth.
Kayla (King) is a typical teen being raised by divorced parents, shuffled between the two and struggling to come to terms with the situaiton. Rebecca (Enos), a successful high-powered corporate lawyer drops off her daughter with her ex, Jay (Sarsgaard), a hipster struggling musician. It’s the dead of winter in Upstate New York and the chill in the air is no coincidence as it foreshadows the events to come. As Dad and Kayla drive the country backroads on their way to a dance camp, they pick up Kayla’s best friend Britney (Devery Jacobs). The girls’ banter is conflicting as it devolves into a flirtatious encounter between Britney and Jay. Requesting a stop along the way to relieve herself, Britney and Kayla exit the car into the woods, but only Kayla returns. The bloodcurdling scream and the reactions that follow change not only Britney’s life forever, but everyone’s.
In a split second decision to not call 911, Jay takes the road less traveled as he learns that his daughter has intentionally killed Britney, pushing her over the bridge and plunging into the harsh and frigid rapids below. Hatching a plan on their way back to Mom’s, the cover up begins and as they say, “Lies beget lies.”
Rebecca learns of the truth and the conundrum in which she is placed goes against every moral grain in her body, but she must protect her daughter. Of course, all of this spirals out of control as the situation devolves, but always beneath the surface is Rebecca’s questioning of her own daughter’s odd reactions. Jay, however, justifies Kayla’s nonchalant and inappropriate expressions as she is able to go about her life as if nothing happened. No remorse or sorrow is found in this girl as she fixes breakfast, watches television, laughs, and interacts normally.
Rebecca’s internal struggle is immediately evident in her appearance as she questions whether or not she has raised a sociopath. And as Britney’s father and the police begins to ask questions, the chips begin to fall. Rebecca and Jay can’t keep track of all the lies which leads to more grandiose actions taken to cover up the initial crime.
“The Lie” asks the question of how far would you go to protect your child if he/she was guilty of a crime? Could you do the unthinkable? How would you react? These are difficult questions and both characters of Rebecca and Jay handle it differently. Additionally, beneath the obvious surface is the impact of divorce upon a teenager as Kayla’s motivation is revealed.
The questions this film brings to light are compelling ones that both Enos and Sarsgaard eloquently approach. “The Lie” becomes their story as they reconnect and remind one another of why they got divorced. Enos shines in her role as we physically watch her appearance unravel and her body language subtly reveals that she is in constant heightened anxiety. Sarsgaard’s polar opposite character balances the anxiousness as he attempts to lead the family back to a smooth road of normalcy. King, unfortunately, never seems to find the right direction in allowing us to more accurately read her situation. With an unexpected ending, we can see why she is all over the board, but her every reaction is more of an overreaction.
The connection between Enos and Sarsgaard carries the film to give it a sense of reality. Their characters were once in love, but their differences made marriage impossible and we see these aspects arise as they attempt to come together for the good of their child. And as the original title of the film suggests, there are monsters in this film, but who is the true monster?
Streaming on Amazon Prime beginning Tuesday, October 6.