L.I.E.

Critics Consensus

L.I.E. is a well-acted and unsettling look at a boy's relationship with a pedophile.

84%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 85

78%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,490

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Movie Info

A teenaged boy in desperate need of a father figure finds one in a place no one should ever have to look in this controversial drama. Howie (Paul Franklin Dano) is a 15-year-old who has been emotionally at sea ever since the death of his mother in an auto accident several years before. Howie's father Marty (Bruce Altman) is also having trouble dealing with the loss, and distracts himself with empty sex while avoiding authorities attempting to prosecute him for using unsafe materials in his building contracting business. Howie falls in with a group of homeless delinquents his own age, becoming especially close to streetwise Gary (Billy Kay). In time, Howie begins to wonder if his feelings for Gary go past ordinary friendship, but the issue of his sexuality is forced into a very different light after Gary persuades Howie to join him in robbing the home of middle-aged former Marine Big John Harrigan (Brian Cox). It doesn't take long for Big John to track down the culprits after Howie and Gary steal several guns from his house, but Howie learns that Big John and Gary have met before -- Gary sometimes works as a male prostitute, and Big John, whose tastes run to boys in their early teens, is a regular customer. When Gary runs away to California, Big John proposes that Howie work off their debt by having sex with him; while Howie is hardly comfortable with this arrangement, he has nowhere else to go after his father ends up in jail, and he finds an unexpected degree of emotional support in his relationship with the curiously compassionate pedophile, who comes to understand just how badly Howie needs help. L.I.E. (the title stands for "Long Island Expressway") premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.

Cast

Brian Cox
as Big John Harrigan
Paul Dano
as Howie Blitzer
Billy Kay
as Gary Terrio
Bruce Altman
as Marty Blitzer
James Costa
as Kevin Cole
Marcia DeBonis
as Guidance Counselor
Adam LeFevre
as Marty's Lawyer
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News & Interviews for L.I.E.

Critic Reviews for L.I.E.

All Critics (85) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (71) | Rotten (14)

Audience Reviews for L.I.E.

  • Apr 13, 2016
    One of the few films to discuss the taboo subject of pedophilia. Long Island Express is a coming of age film with a dark twist, the content is sure to disturb many.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Aug 11, 2014
    I never thought I'd say these words when describing a film, but this movie has the nicest pedophile I have ever seen. I don't mean to say that the film makes you think that Big John's actions are ever ok, in fact, far from it. But I will get to that later. This film could certainly be seen as controversial, but I'm not even sure why it got an NC-17 rating to be perfectly honest. Maybe it's the nature of the friendship that develops between Howie, a 15-year-old who's been stuck out in limbo since his mother's death, and Big John, a very obvious 50+ year old pedophile. Maybe it's just based off of that. There's one scene where, I'm assuming, Big John shows Howie some child pornography and you get to see some of it, I mean cut off of course, you get to see part of a person's head, for example, as they're performing a blowjob. Maybe that was it, I don't know. Personally I found the film to be quite compelling and the dynamic between Howie and Big John made for a very interesting movie. Because it's obvious that there's some part of John that would very much like to have sex with Howie, but there's also a part of him that wants to take care of this kid, for whatever reason that may be and that dynamic is really what carries the film. It's also a bit fucked up in the sense that Howie, in the emotional absence of his father since his mother's death, needs a father figure in his life to look over him and the only person FOR that is a known pedophile. Howie doesn't really even care about John's perversions and in many ways he'd like for John to do what he does. This is a story about a kid finding acceptance in all the wrong places, but John really is the only one who genuinely cares for him, in a strange way. John never takes advantage of Howie when he very well could've multiple times, he's always honest and upfront with him, doesn't try to force him to do anything he doesn't want to do. Big John is an honest man, for all of his faults and his perversions. Again, that dynamic is incredibly makes for an engrossing watch. You never really know what's gonna happen or what to expect form John, or even Howie for that matter. The film, very obviously, covers issues such as sexual identity and discovery. It's clear that Howie is a homosexual and John, while in no way taking advantage of him, makes Howie realizes what he really wants. The film lacks technical prowess but more than makes up for it with its scripting and strong acting from Brian Cox and Paul Dano. Let's just say Brian Cox could've played the character as detestable as humanly possible, he's that talented, but he makes the character a little more complex than that. Again, the film doesn't try to justify his behavior, but it does somewhat humanize a character that most would want to look at as a monster. That's another thing you struggle with, as a viewing audience, Big John, while at his core he's a bad man, he's also a man with a lot of good in his heart as evidenced by his friendship with Howie and how he grows to care for him in a genuine manner. Really good movie here, not perfect, but a thought-provoking and engrossing coming-of-age story.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • May 05, 2010
    Good, but be ready for some biting qualities.
    Leigh R Super Reviewer
  • Apr 15, 2010
    Difficult to watch but a masterful film.
    John B Super Reviewer

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