Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

The Invention of Lying

Grade : A+ Year : 2009 Director : Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson Running Time : 1hr 40 min Genre :
Movie review score

Well THAT was unexpected.

Ricky Gervais, the creator of “The Office,” is still a bit of an unknown entity in America. His work has garnered a loyal fanbase, but his 2008 starring role in “Ghost Town” didn’t exactly break out like some of us would have hoped.

It’ll take an act of The Man in the Sky for his latest film to be the breakout he so deserves on this side of the pond.

Allow me to start praying now. As written and directed by Gervais and Matthew Robinson, “The Invention of Lying” is the best form of cinematic satire. Like “Office Space” before it, “Lying” uncovers the facade of everyday life with the precision of a surgeon and the skill of a sharp-shooter.

The setup is simple. In a world where everybody tells the truth, Mark (Gervais) learns how to lie. And in doing so, he uncovers the tragedy inherint with human nature and finds the humility to look beneath the surface.

But if the film were just a one-joke setup, it’d be dog-ass boring. But Gervais, one of the most original and fearless comedic talents today (did you see him on the Emmys), has a bolder agenda as well. I wouldn’t dare spoil it for you, except to say that it’ll have a good portion of the population pissed, and the other half calling him brilliant.

I’m part of the latter. Gervais’ ideas are fresh and funny, from the trivails of his character to what constitutes a “movie” in this world to the dilemmas that commence when he is overheard at his dying mother’s bed.

But it isn’t as simple as all that. This film says so much about basic human nature and the ways emotional truth can be overlooked when we just see what’s in front of our eyes that there’s genuine gravitas at moments, and Hell, I even shed some tears at times.

The cast is peerless and surprising. Gervais knew he would have to surround himself with original talents if the film was going to work at all, and from Tina Fey to Jeffrey Tambor and Jason Batemen to out of left field choices like Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Jennifer Garner, Gervais (whose performance rates with the year’s best) has found people capable of going for broke and playing off of him to create original, but easily recognizable, in how close they resemble people we encounter in real life.

Now if there were more people as original and talented as Ricky Gervais in Hollywood, who could swing for the fences, and knock ball after ball out of the park.

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