In an alternative reality, lying – even the concept of a lie – does not even exist. Everyone, from politicians to advertisers to the man and woman on the street, speaks the truth and nothing but the truth with no thought of the consequences. But when a down-on-his-luck loser named Mark (Ricky Gervais) suddenly develops the ability to lie, he finds that dishonesty has its rewards. In a world where every word is assumed to be the absolute truth.
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Co-written and co-directed by Ricky Gervais along with debut movie director Matthew Robinson, The Invention of Lying is a showcase of Gervais’s talent as the stereotypical ‘fat’, ‘pug-nose’ loser whose character makes hay while the sun shines as failed feature-film writer, Mark Bellinson. In a world where people are unable to lie, in world where there does not even exist the word ‘lie’ (nor, indeed, it’s converse word ‘truth’), people are thoroughly, unwaveringly and harshly honest - particularly in the case of our unfortunate ‘loser’ hero. Despite Mark’s age and experience of the truth-telling alternate reality in which he lives, he is never unsurprised by the critical analysis from everyone he converses with. This is not the case though with the ever gorgeous and ‘genetically favoured’ Anna McDoogles, played by Jennifer Garner (13 Going on 30), as here, Mark is already fulfilling most of his own low expectations also. Garner’s portrayal of Anna appears quite basic on the surface of things. A pampered ‘dolly’ who is almost android-like in her perfection and coolness, but her journey of discovery is one that is subtly and well acted, showing the strength of character to have been there all along - simply learning to adjust her beliefs in, what is to her, a brave new world. There are many good performances in The Invention of Lying by a well-known and well-loved cast of comedy players (many of whom you will have seen together in overlapping film and television successes). Mark’s best friend and co-loser Greg, played by Louis C.K (Role Models), the desperate neighbour Frank, played by Jonah Hill (Superbad) and the doctor, played by Jason Bateman (Arrested Development). Cameo appearances by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Stephen Merchant and Shaun Williamson steal the show though, with their pure simplicity and fun. The Invention of Lying is enjoyable with its great cast, unusual plot and wonderful soundtrack providing entertainment that is likely to be appreciated through the first, as well as many subsequent, viewings.
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