Brian Cox’s Great LIE|
by Rich Cline (writing as Jack Leger) • QX, 20 November 2002
Paedophilia and gay sexuality have nothing to do with each other, yet that doesn’t stop the media from fanning the fires of homophobia every time they get the chance. So get ready for a conflagration when L.I.E. opens at the end of the month. One of the main characters is a paedophile, he’s gay, and by the end of the film you actually like him.
The film’s title refers to the Long Island Expressway, which figures heavily in the life of a 15-year-old named Howie (played by Paul Dano, who’s also in The Emperor’s Club with Kevin Kline). Over the course of the film, Howie meets and is befriended by an old man named Big John (Brian Cox), who it turns out is sleeping with Howie’s best friend (Billy Kay). Howie’s mother has just died, his father is preoccupied with a legal problem, and now Big John is offering him the attention he needs.
This is one of the most haunting and beautifully made films you’ll see all year, full of tension and emotion that sticks with you long after you leave the cinema, making you think in a complicated way about issues we prefer to assume are black and white. No wonder the tabloids are going to have a field day!
REFLECTING REALITY. Director-cowriter Michael Cuesta knows what he’s talking about; he grew up in this area and simply tried to make a film that reflects his own reality. “I think the obvious inspiration was my own growing up on the island, but I needed to make a movie that stayed with people emotionally and psychologically,” he says. “There was a Big John kind of guy in the neighbourhood who cruised around in a van. We called him the Bloated Man and I hadn’t thought of him for years until Steve Ryder and I started working on this script.”
And he knows how lucky he was to get Brian Cox for the pivotal role. “I cannot say enough about this man,” he says. “He’s a great actor! To me, Big John is a character who’s all about repressed guilt. He’s not totally evil or predatory in the way we’d expect a man who likes young boys to be, because he knows his proclivities are problematic. It was vital that the audience could relate to Big John, even sympathise with him. When I was thinking of Brian for the part I looked at Michael Mann’s Manhunter, in which Brian played the first Hannibal Lecter. And when I met him the first time I knew right away that he understood the script.”
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