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L.I.E.
cast: Brian Cox, Paul Franklin Dano, Bruce Altman, Billy Kay, and James Costa

director: Michael Cuesta

97 minutes (18) 2001
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
L.I.E. stands for Long Island Expressway, a notoriously busy and dangerous road. As Howie's opening voiceover tells us, its most famous victims include Harry Chapin and Alan J. Pakula. Another one was Howie's mother. Now 15 years old, Howie (Paul Franklin Dano) is growing up with a distant father. The friends he hangs around with go in for breaking and entering - however, one of the houses they break into is owned by Big John Harrigan (Brian Cox), an ex-Marine who is also a paedophile...
   The only on-screen sexual activity in L.I.E. is heterosexual, but that didn't save the film from being given an NC-17 rating in the US for subject matter and theme alone. (The BBFC didn't seem to have any difficulty in passing the film 18 with no cuts.) When child abusers are readily demonised in the press, it takes some courage to make a film that deals more sensitively with the subject, indeed even suggests that man-boy love may, in certain circumstances, be a rite of passage into adulthood rather than being simply exploitative. Indeed, Big John's teenaged lovers are just as much exploiting him as he might be them... and his relationship with Howie slowly changes from a sexual one to a paternal one. The film is a little too slow-paced, and has a melodramatic ending, but benefits from strong performances by Cox (on a par with Dylan Baker's superficially similar role in Happiness) and Dano. First-time director Cuesta has a good eye for dark and troubling things lurking under suburbia's surface, with the constant noise from the Expressway filling in the background to most scenes.
   It has its faults, but L.I.E. is a brave attempt at dealing in a responsibly adult way with material that is very much taboo. Tartan's DVD (mastered from a NTSC source, as it has the same running time as the cinema release) has an anamorphic transfer and the original Dolby surround soundtrack. Extras: commentaries by Cuesta and Cox, trailer, filmographies, deleted scenes, film notes by Ali Catterall, and Tartan world cinema trailer reel.
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