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AN HONEST LIAR is a feature documentary about the world-famous magician, escape artist, and world-renowned enemy of deception, James 'The Amazing' Randi. The film brings to life Randi's intricate investigations that publicly exposed psychics, faith healers, and con-artists with quasi-religious fervor. A master deceiver who came out of the closet at the age of 81, Randi created fictional characters, fake psychics, and even turned his partner of 25 years, the artist Jose Alvarez, into a sham guru named Carlos. But when a shocking revelation in Randi's personal life is discovered, it isn't clear whether Randi is still the deceiver - or the deceived.Written by
For me, this is a movie about a great professional magician, sadly spoiled by a secondary personal relationship plot line introduced about 1/2 way though. This action erases the early cinematic and plot perfection leaving the whole experience flawed. The movie started aimed at one outcome, but then switches to a different target. The switch comes across as contrived, sort of a mixed metaphor.
The genre switches from comedy to tragedy, without an epic hero; the second half tragic protagonist is not Randi. The movie shot a lot of scene arrows, but at different targets, unnecessarily watering down the entire effort.
I came away liking and profoundly respecting the art and science of James Randi, who is quite the magician in his own right and time, turned detective and debunker of charlatans. His personal life was artfully dealt with at first, then paraded like dirty laundry when it wasn't. Maybe the storyteller's intent was to debunk the debunker, but the magic of the reveal was lacking, not consequential, but incidental. Therefore, the original comedic genre became a tragedy without pity or fear.
I recommend it for the first half alone, the part about the Amazing Randi, his acclaimed magic and debunking. Still, maybe walk out 1/2 way though when the protagonist shifts character unnecessarily in a spoiling way, turning a great wine of a movie sour.
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