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Fifteen-year-old Howie loses just about everything and everyone in the space of a single week, but ends up finding himself in the process. His mother has just died. His father, a building contractor, can barely keep tabs on his young girlfriend, let alone his own son. Thusly, the teen must navigate his adolescence virtually unsupervised. Floating towards an ill-behaved existence, Howie and his crowd begin robbing houses in the middle-class neighborhoods off the Long Island Expressway. Together, he and his best friend Gary break into a place belonging to an old guy named Big John, a local man who is a respected pillar of the community. When Big John fingers Gary for the crime, Howie learns that his pal has been leading a secret, dangerous but also alluring double life. Subsequently, we also discover that Big John has secrets of his own. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
L.I.E. Long Island Expressway. You got the lanes going east, and you got the lanes going west. And you also got the lanes going straight to hell. Lot of people died on it. Harry Chapin, Alan Pakula, the movie director. You probably heard of them. But you never heard of Sylvia Blitzer, my mom. She died on a crash on Exit 52. I really miss her. It's taken a lot of people and I hope it doesn't get me.
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L.I.E. is the name of the movie and short for Long Island Expressway. At the beginning of the movie fifteen year-old Howie stands on top a bridge over that expressway . A fine opening sequence in which we are not sure he will jump nor how the movie will break away from the tense opening. He returns to the bridge several times during the movie. The fifteen year-old has lost mother to the L.I.E. and has no substantive relationship with his father. He becomes friends with another boy who sells his body to men at a local rest stop. Together they rob houses and are caught in the act attempting to rob the home of a pederast called Big John. Howie narrowly escapes sans the left rear pocket of his jeans which Big John has torn from him in the chase. Later the pederast and Howie become friends. I don't want to give away too much of the plot but I found this movie a sensitive portrayal of a difficult subject to present objectively(especially in these times of the new conservatism): namely man-boy love.
The film has a very erotic quality to it with some nice shots of the teen in underwear. The keen edge of the drama is mollified by fine sequences of comic relief involving the friends of the main character. Ironically the only explicit sex scene was a heterosexual one between Howie's father and his girlfriend. The sound track is very good I thought. I liked the bit where they played 'Hurdy-Gurdy Man' as Big John is cruising the junior high school. And they have a touching Handel aria near the end. I think the relationship between the boy and the older man was well done. The actor who played Big John was exceptional. Much light is thrown on his character in scenes having nothing to do with boys: his birthday party, his drive home near the end. The only part I did not care for was the ending. It did not seem to fit at all. Roger Ebert felt the same way indicating that it seemed like an ending spliced on from another movie. I agree. I give two thumbs up to this movie: one for the way they portrayed the subject matter and another for the fine acting.
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