The Lie (dir. Veena Sud, 2020) – On the way to a dance camp, one wrong move turns the lives of a family upside down.
When Kayla (Joey King) confesses to the murder of her best friend, her divorced parents make a difficult decision – to cover up for her crime. But every lie has its consequences. Their game of deception soon reveals its hefty cost when the missing teen’s father comes a-knocking.
Contrary to expectations, The Lie does not promise the elegance of a perfect plan. In fact, the would-be conspirators are no natural criminals. Their scheme is but a series of poor decisions that comes apart in seconds. Intrigue is then clearly not in the lie itself, but what compels it.
For Jay (Peter Sarsgaard) and Rebecca (Mireille Enos), what drives them to the point of no return is complicated. Their child has grown up into someone whom they no longer recognise. It is a very real fear of every parent to have given birth to a bad seed. What does one do then?
The couple faces a tough moral conundrum. They know exactly what she did and the irrevocable hurt her actions caused. Yet they have a responsibility to protect their child. They know that they cannot bring themselves to turn her in, especially if it means her facing a death sentence.
Love overrules their good judgement and they choose to be complicit in their daughter’s deed. It seems absurd that they would protect a murderer. But people had done worse things in the name of family. The pair never thinks like criminals only because they are thinking as parents. In the way they react more than they act, the story feels real.
Their growing lies breed bitterness and shame. Their guilt heightens when they see Kayla’s lack of remorse for her actions. They wonder if they had been wrong to protect her, and even feel responsible for what she did. Every little choice they made in raising their daughter comes back to haunt them, each claiming a part to play in her becoming.
For everything it tries to explore, The Lie is an imperfect story. Sometimes, the things Jay and Rebecca do are absurd, even for the most inept schemers. It is infuriating to see the family sabotage themselves without realising it. Nothing gets more frustrating than the ridiculous plot twist, memorable for all the wrong reasons.
But for the most part, the film is a heart-pounding watch. Tragedy feels inevitable and undeserving for Jay and Rebecca, who only wanted to do the right thing. Every yarn they had spun however starts to come loose in time, leaving them with no way out. The slow burn makes one feel every bit of their emotional turmoil as it edges gradually towards an aching finale.
The psychological drama takes a deep dive into a terrifying parental nightmare. Inevitable consequences make for a tense watch, at least until its final act.