LIAR (“Menteur,” 2009, Belgium)

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MENTEUR || 2009, Belgium || Drama || Directed by – Tom Geens / Written by – Tom Geens / Produced by – John Engels / Music by – Liars / Cinematography – C.L. Zvonock / Editing by – Sophie Vercruysse / Starring – Jean-Benoît Ugeux, Luc Bromagne, Christelle Cornil / Running time: 78 mins.

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“Liar (Menteur)” by Tom Geens (2009, Belgium)

Liar is the story of a man trying to bluff his way into a better career escalates into the story of a man who becomes trapped in a web of lies of his own creations.

Impossible not to draw parallels between this powerful, debut feature by writer director Tom Geens and Dostoevsky. However, it is equally impressive to note that the unsettling and intense character-centric Liar is a mixture of cinematic experimentation and a more traditionalist form, the latter born out of a humane concern and a genuine will to reveal the motives behind the psycholpathological patterns that lead its leading figure Antoine on a path of self destruction. Thus, while the film moves in a fugue like structure, or perhaps even a rollercoaster ride, and it benefits from the directness of its camerawork and sharp editing, many of its narrative patters draw direct links to the melodrama of classic cinematic works.

For example, one of the elements explored in the storyline is the pressure put upon Antoine by his desperate need to impress his father, who not only sees him as a disappointment, but also never fails to constantly remind of his failures also by comparing his life to the life of his successful brother. This, for instance, is something that recalls East of Eden by Elia Kazan.

Jean-Benoît Ugeux in the leading role, brings a certain physicality to his performance that makes his progressive decadence all the more energetic and gritty. But what equally makes the character he plays all the more engaging, is that Geens never paints him as neither a martyr, nor as a some type of tragic anti-hero, creating a distance that calls for an open interaction with each individual viewer.

A modern tragedy that is not afraid to take chances and flirt with absurdism, Liar is a transporting film, gripping from start to finish. Though it has been somewhat undeservedly overlooked, it is indeed one of those films that needs to be rediscovered. – 5/5

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