[Movie Review] Brilliant Lies

Brilliant LiesStarring: Anthony LaPaglia, Gia Carides, Zoe Carides, Catherine Wilkin, Neil Melville
Director: Richard Franklin
Genre: Drama
Cert: 15
Released: 1996

Suzy Connor (Gia Carides) is accusing her boss Gary Fitzgerald (LaPaglia) of sexual harrasment. Although Gary has had a few indiscretions in the past, he flatly denies the claims and is backed up by his boss, Vince (Melville). However, unless the company pay what Suzy is demanding, it will go to court and that is something that Fitzgerald cannot allow happen. Willing to settle out-of-court, he scoffs at her $40,000 demands and the pair go head-to-head to find out who is lying and who is telling the truth.

“Brilliant Lies” plays out like a stage play, heavy on characterisation and pretty much straight to the point. We see the main protagonists painted both black and white. We see Suzy as both the abused woman, and the drug-taking party girl. Gary is the suave womaniser and also a convincing protester of his innocence. On the periphary are chacters that are just as important to the story.

Vince seems to be standing by Gary’s side but Gary suspects that Vince does not believe him. Suzy’s feminist sister, Zoe, wants to believe her but refuses to lie for her. Both sisters are traumitised by their abusive father, Brian (Ray Barrett), and made feel guilty for their dislike for him by their brother, Paul (Michael Veitch), who is unaware of the abuse. In the middle of it all is the tribunal mediator, Marion Lee (Wilkin), who must balance the claims of each party.

The screenplay is not over-brimming with wonderful wit or insight, but it is competent. The two best known actors here are unsurprisingly the main two characters, but the support cast are by no means put to shame. While Zoe Carides and Michael Veitch give somewhat empty performances, Catherine Wilkin excels as the middle-person while Neil Melville is equally adept at portraying the business associate of LaPaglia. Special mention goes to Ray Barrett whose portrayal of failed businessman and groping father, Brian Connor, is so seedy and yet hilarious, that against your best wishes you can’t help but make him the man you love to hate.

By no means an authority on the subject, “Brilliant Lies” is however a watchable and entertaining look at the battle of the sexes.



[Movie Review] Bulworth

BulworthStarring: Warren Beatty, Oliver Platt, Paul Sorvino, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle
Director: Warren Beatty
Genre: Comedy
Cert: 18
Released: 1998

Tired and disillusioned Congressional candidate, Jay Bulworth (Beatty), subjects himself to sleep deprevation which in turn leads him to display unusual behaviour in public. Bizzarely, the public respond warmly to his more unorthodox opinions and he finds a new lease of life, aided in no small way by the beautiful Nina (Berry), but giving severe headaches to his personal assistant, Dennis Murphy (Platt). But the invigoration in his political career means that he must cancel what he calls the ‘weekend scouting mission’ and unknown to those around him, Bulworth is in a race against time to avoid political suicide.

Where “Primary Colors” fails, “Bulworth” hits the mark with it’s outrageous satricial outlook on US politics. Senator Bulworth rounds on those who have lined his pockets for years such as the movie industry and insurance companies and speaks up the cause of the common man, and the black minority in particular. It’s hardly subtle but when it’s this funny, it has no need to be.

Beatty takes much of the credit, naturally. Not the most prolific actor, his performance is near-flawless and utterly convincing. But the casting is spot on throughout. Berry makes her big breathrough as the love interest (and she went on to thank Warren Beatty in her Oscar acceptance speech this year), Oliver Platt is in wonderful form as the conservative PA, Jack Warden and Paul Sorvina perform steadily in their limited roles and Don Cheadle notches up another commanding turn as local gangster, L.D..