In L.I.E. fifteen-year-old Howie (Paul Dano) suffers loss when his mother dies and his father Marty (Bruce Altman) brings home a young girlfriend only a few weeks later. His only comfort is his friendship with Gary (Billy Kay). Gary is attracted to Howie, but Howie is confused about his sexuality. Together with two other friends the pair regularly breaks into neighbour’s houses.
One night, they break into the house of Big John (Brian Cox), a local, highly respected in the community. When Big John confronts Gary, Gary names Howie. Big John finds Howie and having gained his trust, demands Howie returns the guns they stole. Howie only returns one and so John demands compensation for the other, putting on a porn film and stroking Howie’s thigh. Howie quickly leaves. When Gary then steals money from Howie’s father and runs away, Howie is further affected and becomes even more confused about his sexual identity.
John and Howie begin a tentative friendship with John acting as a father figure. When John sends his lover Scott (Walter Masterson) away, Howie finds child pornography and realizes that John is a paedophile.
Meanwhile, Marty, on seeing Howie out of school, is furious and hits him. Later that day he is arrested and this leads Howie to believe his father has abandoned him. John tells him the truth and the next morning takes him to see his father in jail.
After dropping Howie off, John drives to a local hustling area, where Scott, upset at his rejection, drives past and shoots him dead.
“An achievement of accomplished filmmaking and superb acting, L.I.E. puts you in the tough spot of unraveling how you feel about what you’ve viewed.”
— Kim Morgan, Portland Oregonian
“Despite a little rough stuff here and there, this is one of the more insightful and affecting teen-trauma films of recent years.”
— Bill Gallo, New Times L.A.
“One of the year’s most unsettling — and perhaps most illuminating — films.”
— Chris Kaltenbach, Baltimore Sun
Did You Know?
Despite advice to the contrary from many colleagues and his agent, Brian Cox took the part of Big John Harrigan. L.I.E. was the directorial film debut for Michael Cuesta, who shared a birthday with the character Howie, on July 8. Review our Gay Themed Films Here