Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

The Invention of Lying

I went to see the new Ricky Gervais film. If you don't know the premise you can guess it from the title: set in an alternative universe where the human race has never developed lying, stories, or even innuendo, Ricky Gervais plays a man who suddenly discovers how to fib. Excitingly, about half way through this takes off and he invents religion, a bit stumblingly, which is going slightly beyond expectations. But he doesn't quite write or act up to the narrative challenge he has set himself.

One sentence verdict: this film is an honourable miss. A man's reach should exceed his grasp, and I'm pleased to see Gervais, who is a very clever man, reaching towards a metaphysical comedy-drama like The Truman Show or Groundhog Day, but to be honest he misses that standard by miles. The film plummets at the end into Hollywood claptrap, but there's a lot on the way that is pretty good: jokes that make me laugh, pathos that made me cry. But it doesn't quite hang together.

Many of the best popular films of the past twenty years or so hinge on a breakthrough of understanding. The Shawshank Redemption, the Usual Suspects, The Truman Show and so on. Gervais tries to do this, as his eyes are opened to the infinite possibilities of fiction. But he can't act it. It just doesn't work. What a shame.

However, at least he knows what he's trying for, and I hope he'll try again and perhaps make it next time.
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