Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

While accepting the sensitivity of the subject matter, Michael Cuesta's debut feature is without hope. It portrays the affluent American provinces - in this case, Long Island - as rotten to the core.

Howie (Paul Dano) is different. He's 15-going-on-16. His mother was killed in a car crash and his dad is about to be arrested for fraud. His best friend is a rent boy and school life lacks any meaning for him.

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And yet he's a good kid. He knows passages of Walt Whitman by heart. He doesn't get on with his father, who, in a rage, punches him in the face. He finds his friends lacking rudimentary comprehension of beauty and poetry. He doesn't blame them, or expect anything better. His need for affection makes him vulnerable and so he protects himself with attitude.

The film centres around his involvement with Big John (Brian Cox), a well-respected, rich and oddly eccentric member of the community. In a complex series of events, involving the theft of Big John's collection of hand guns, Howie finds himself in his debt.

"What have you got that is worth $1000?" Big John asks, stroking the boy's thigh.

The paedophilic undertones exist in every gesture and word. Cuesta treats these with the greatest respect. The film is intelligent and honest, without being, in any way, entertaining.

Cox gives a many layered performance that remains rooted in reality - at times charming, at others fierce. When he finds roles like this, you believe everything that has ever been written about him. They stretch his capacity to astonish.

Dano has something few teenage actors possess. It is a quality of uniqueness that exists for the moment, in the moment.

L.I.E is the Long Island Expressway.

"Lanes go West, lanes go East," Howie says. "Lanes go straight to hell."

Reviewed on: 07 Aug 2001
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A disaffected youth on Long Island becomes involved with a rich paedophile, after his father has been arrested for fraud.
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Read more L.I.E. reviews:

Jennie Kermode ****

Director: Michael Cuesta

Writer: Stephen M. Ryder, Michael Cuesta, Gerald Cuesta

Starring: Brian Cox, Paul Dano, Billy Kay, Bruce Altman, James Costa, Tony Donnelly, B Constance Barry

Year: 2001

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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