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Would I Lie To You? /
Would I Lie To You, Again?
cast: Richard Anconina, Richard Bohringer, Amira Casar, Vincent Elbaz, and Aure Atika

director: Thomas Gilou

100 minutes (15) 1997 widescreen ratio 16:9
Fremantle / Arrow DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
Eddie is out of luck. He's broke, he has no job, and his landlord wants the rent cheque yesterday. However, when a fight with a street vendor leads a local merchant to believe that Eddie is Jewish, he finds a whole world of opportunity opening up for him. And it's not like he's actually lied. Yet...

This pair of romantic comedies take the highly unusual background of the clothing industry, and turn it into something which is interesting, funny and surprisingly gritty. Even the first film (aka: La Vérité si je mens), which at first glance is basic comedy-of-errors fare, manages to get a couple of genuine surprises into the mix.

This is thanks, largely, to the mammoth central cast. Richard Anconina's Eddie is joined by a near-dozen central roles, all of which have plots of their own and all of which interact in increasingly complex ways. This works particularly well in the first film where Eddie finds himself dropped into the centre of this group of men whose egos, libidos and rivalries are constantly overlapping. The overall effect is akin to being dropped into a Shakespeare comedy halfway through and it makes for some genuinely funny moments.

But, as I said, there's some grit here too. Were this a Hollywood movie Eddie's deception would be uncovered and the whole thing would be resolved in the closing reel with a quick display of emotion and a well-placed wisecrack. Here, however, you get an altogether more plausible and humane opening with Eddie finding acceptance but nearly losing the girl of his dreams as a result.

The second film, Would I Lie To You, Again? (2001), picks up on the idea of the ensemble and runs with it. After a fantastic faux James Bond opening sequence we again jump around as Eddie struggles to get a deal with a European distributor, Dov struggles to juggle his parental responsibilities and Serge tries to stay one step ahead of his cousin as he continues an affair with his wife.

Whilst the second film is flasher and more pacy, it also highlights the first's biggest problem... Both movies are cheerfully chauvinistic, filled to the nines with men who sleep around, brag about it and constantly struggle to get one over on each another. The first film has the basically decent Eddie front and centre to balance this out but the second focuses a little too much on the oafish sexual antics to be as entertaining.

If you can deal with these problems then there's a lot to enjoy here. The performances are mostly strong, the comedy comes from the characters instead of the pitfalls and the plot never slows down. It's just a shame that the humour remains uniformly chauvinistic.

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