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A young man and a nice woman in her forties fall in love. His mother goes berserk when he tells her about it and when the girlfriend comes to meet the mother, she wants to jump out of her skin. Accepting her son's choice won't be easy.
The story of this movie is classical Hitchcock stuff. It tells about fear, suspicion, innocence, betrayed trust and delivers a considerable amount of suspense. It is based on real events and is basically a movie about the invasion of privacy and its devastating effects thanks to the excellent performances of all the actors a rewarding experience, but one that left me feeling sad and uncomfortable.
The question of loyalty looms large over the whole situation. So, your neighbors who happen to be your best friends, are suspected of being spies. But those who want you to believe that are very secretive about it, giving away only shreds of information, leaving you more or less in the dark. Is the neighbors' friendship a total fake, merely a tactical gimmick? Are they ignorant about all that is going on and maybe just victims? You can't talk about it with your friends - which basically is what friends are for - you must lie to them, faking the "usual ignorance". No wonder that the concerned family get to the brink of insanity, especially because - as if this were not enough - they have to deal with permanent house-guests who more or less take over the dwelling, spying on the neighborhood for some not really clear reason creating an all around surreal situation. Remains the question: Whom can you trust? You have to trust somebody.
It does this movie great credit that it distributes the pack of lies evenly, not demonizing anybody. There is nothing bad" about the neighbors who are revealed in the end as hardboiled spies and did what they did because of their political convictions. They are perfectly civil and likable, up to their arrest which comes through as a general defeat for everybody concerned in the immediate surroundings. The effects on the family are truly devastating, and that is hard to take even if in all probability there wouldn't have been more sensible ways to deal with the situation successfully. So probably they belong to the anonymous victims of the Cold War to whom, as far as I know, nobody ever erected a monument.
The only thing I regret about Pack of Lies is the stylistic approach, which is flat and undramatic and makes it almost a documentary in appearance. In my opinion, the surrealistic elements of the story and the moral turmoils the family has to go through would have justified a slightly more "cinematic" approach to the issue. After all, the whole situation is really far from normal. Or so I hope.
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