Textile company heir James Wayland (Tim Roth) is accused of murder of a prostitute named Elizabeth (Renée Zellweger), whose body was found cut in two in the park. The murder is investigated by tough Detective Edward Kennesaw (Michael Rooker) and his less experienced partner Phillip Braxton (Chris Penn). Wayland is a heavy drinker and compulsive liar, he is prone to memory losses and periods of heavy violence. He is rich enough to access necessary information, and he gets the interrogators' own dark secrets - Kennesaw is angry about affairs his wife had and had let off steam with Elizabeth, and Braxton has gambling debts with Mook (Ellen Burstyn), who is demanding payment.
Final theatrical movie of Mark Damon (Wayland's Father). See more »
James Walter Wayland:
I'm cutting across the park, just below the reservoir. It's a nice night. I feel like walking. I met a girl on the path I knew. We had a brief conversation, then I continued on. I never saw her again.
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Deceiver (AKA: Liar) is directed and written by Jonas and Josh Pate. It stars Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Michael Rooker, Ellen Burstyn, Renée Zellweger and Rosanna Arquette. Music is by Harry Gregson-Williams and cinematography by Bill Butler.
The gruesome murder of a prostitute finds chief suspect James Wayland (Roth) in an interrogation room undergoing a lie detector test. Two detectives, Phillip Braxton (Penn) and Edward Kennesaw (Rooker), are overseeing the test and sure of Wayland's guilt. But they are soon to find that Wayland is no push over and as the mind games start, dark secrets begin to come into play...
Without doubt it's an acquired taste, met with indifference upon its release and still causing debates on internet forums, Deceiver is one of those films that infuriates and fascinates in equal measure. As the title of the film suggests, deception and untruths are the order of the day here, not just in the claustrophobic interrogation room, but also in how the brothers Pate toy with us the audience. With its reliance on a non linear structure and convoluted plot, focusing the attention is greatly required, especially since the use of a rug-pull device will either seal or kill the deal.
As the walls close in on the interrogation room sequences and the flashbacks and character subplots flit in and out of the tale, the Pate brothers bring striking photography and angles into play. Sometimes it's a POV camera technique that has an edginess that seems to be probing for a crack in the armour of the person it looks at, at other instances it's distorted backdrops that run concurrently with the psychological chaos buzzing around the sweat tinged room. While the dialogue the characters are given crackles with the hard-boiled intensity that graced many a 40s and 50s noir thriller.
With a trio of superb lead male performances leading the way and a narrative loaded with duplicity and deviousness, Deceiver is crackerjack neo-noir. It's guilty of excess at times, and it's not hard to understand why some find the trickery too much to bare, but for those who like labyrinthine crime thrillers then this hits the spot. In fact! Repeat viewing is very much recommended. 8/10
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