Of course you look great in that dress!’, ‘I’m never drinking again!’ & ‘No, that wasn’t me coming out of the STD clinic!’ are all lines our Editor has used (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed) so it’s appropriate that he came along with us to see ‘Lies we tell’ a first time feature from writer / director Mitu Misra that’s set in Bradford. Starring Gabriel Byrne as a chauffeur for property magnate Harvey Keitel who he regularly drops off at a house where his Asian mistress, Amber (Sibylla Deen) resides. Keitel has one of the shortest cameo’s we’ve ever seen as no sooner has he had the first scene of the film that we next find him dead leaving Byrne to cover up the affair by getting Amber to pack up and leave the house in order to keep the affair a secret from Keitel’s widow. Keitel’s illicit liaison is one of many lies at the centre of so many characters in the film most of which are a mass of contradictions none more so than Amber. Initially seen swanning around the love shack in what appears to be Agent Provocateur’s finest saucy lingerie it turns out that she is a trainee solicitor who lives with her Muslim family and consequently feels duty bound to cover up and wear her headscarf at all times. The terrace house she lives in with her family is a great piece of production design with its 70’style garish wallpaper and aged furniture.
Amber’s back story is complicated by an arranged marriage abroad with a thoroughly vile suitor KD brilliantly played by Jan Uddin whose swaggering arrogance and misogynist attitude to women is utterly repellent and he already has a pregnant girlfriend Tracey (Emily Atack) an equally repellent and foul mouthed chav. Both Amber and KD, who wants to marry Amber’s younger sister, have secrets and Amber’s is a film clip recording of her and Keitel romping which will bring shame and ultimately lead to her being ostracised by her family if the clip is made public which is where Byrne is dragged into the proceedings with his loyalty to his former employer meaning that he must prevent it from being seen by Keitel’s widow and slimy son.
For a film that is co-written by two white screenwriters this is an extremely perceptive insight into an Asian subculture where the young men adopt a shockingly misogynistic attitude and a belligerently aggressive swagger as wannabe gangster’s to all around them whilst at the same time wanting to keep their tradition observing family’s happy. Rather than the gritty urban revenge thriller that the poster suggests this is ultimately deals with a clash of cultures and hypocrisy.
For a first time feature director Misra this is a decent debut and would likely be accused of an inaccurate portrayal of Asian culture whereas it’s a life style he claims to have directly experienced. It’s unlikely to please the residents of Bradford where its set portraying the city with a significant cultural problem where who can only talk the talk but it makes a change to see the males for once not cast as terrorists though in fairness how they’re seen here is hardly a positive role model. Overlong, it’s in need of some editing and the story does meander in the third act unsure as to whether it wants to address an East/West culture clash or be a thriller but his contrasting shots of a derelict church followed by a newly built mosque is telling. Misra’s debut shows promise.
Here’s the trailer…….