THE LIE sneak preview at the Tribeca 92nd Street Y

Filmwax's Adam Schartoff with filmmaker Joshua Leonard; photo credit: Arthur Kleydman (c) 2011

I was fortunate enough to moderate a recent sneak preview screening of Joshua Leonard’s “The Lie” the 92 Y Tribeca last week.  In addition to seeing the solid comedy, I finally got to meet Josh and engage him for a post-screening Q&A.

Leonard both directs and stars in “The Lie” and while he did express his occasional frustration wearing both hats, it doesn’t show in his film.  Based on a 2008 T. C. Boyle short story which he optioned after reading it in The New Yorker, the movie is not so much about the titular lie but its aftermath.  Leonard (“Higher Ground”, “Hump Day”) plays Lonnie who is facing a very premature mid-life crisis shortly after he and his wife, Clover (a fabulous Jess Weixler) have their first baby.  Lonnie, a failed musician, has a dead-end job editing shlocky commercials while Clover, a recent law school grad, is grappling with a corporate job offer.  This event is anathema to the couple; not so much because it runs against their shared values, which it does, but because they would never have considered such an offer earlier in their relationship.

Around this time Lonnie starts playing hooky from work, much to the irritation of his irascible boss Radko (Gerry Bednob).  In truth, Lonnie is taking the day to jam with his old friend Tank (Mark Webber), drink coffee in the local diner, and spend time with his beloved new daughter.   By the third or fourth day of calling out, to stop Radko from becoming apoplectic, Lonnie let’s slip an atrocious lie about why he can’t make it to work.  I won’t give it away or what ensues since that’s the reason to get over to Village East Cinema on 2nd Avenue and see the movie.

“The Lie” is simple and Leonard leaves plenty of space for both the comic moments as well as the more moving ones.  Weixler is a find, both deceptively gorgeous and a fine comedienne in her own rite.  The laughs are not necessarily big but they come regularly.  The movie invites in its viewers and you feel like you’re in good hands.  The ending —not T.C. Boyle’s— feels somewhat patched on but does not undermine the film.

This was my second experience hosting such an event for the 92Y Tribeca.  The last one was a month or so back for another Seattle filmmaker, Megan Griffiths, with her film, “The Off Hours”.

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