"In the arms of lies" is released - both a black comedy and a thriller about a young girl trapped in the clutches of an obsessed woman. The production is directed by the legendary Irishman Neil Jordan, who has been filming since the early 1980s and has done Interview with the Vampire, Breakfast on Pluto and Cruel Intention, among others. And in the main roles, three different and in their own way outstanding women: the definitive superstar Chloe Grace Moretz, the great Isabelle Huppert and the sassy indie star Mike Monroe. Finding out how Jordan's new film sneers at the main clichés of all thrillers and cleverly balances on the brink of category B cinema.
ATTENTION: the text contains spoilers.
TEXT: Alisa Taezhnaya, author of the telegram channel "See once"
Well-mannered and very sweet Boston girl Francis (Chloe Grace Moretz) comes to New York: for a whole year she tries to come to terms with the death of her mother. In general, the absent dad tries to support her on the phone, but both have a huge hole in their hearts, and he turns out so-so. The main support for Francis in New York is Erica (Mike Monroe), the impudent major girl, whom her parents threw a loft in Tribeca from the lord's shoulder and with whom the meek Francis has been living all this time. Erica loves yoga, goes to the spa and glorifies colonoscopy - according to her, this procedure (someone clearly knows the bestseller about adorable bowels) changes lives forever: "A friend with dyslexia began to fluently read the alphabet backwards." Erica is a necessary cynical partner for Francis to survive in the big city, otherwise such lovely Boston ladies, as Erica just remarked, the city will simply chew and spit out.
Like any good girl, Francis, when he finds a purse in the subway, does not call the police (Erica again turns on the local: "Hey, this is a metropolis, terrorists at every turn!"), But looks for documents inside - and among the pills, powder and lipstick finds a card in the name of Greta Hidig (Isabelle Huppert). Greta lives in a courtyard house in Brooklyn and opens the door to offer Frances a cup of coffee. A new acquaintance is a European with a good upbringing, love for the piano and also a hole in her heart: her husband died and later it turns out that her daughter also died. Playing "Dreams of Love" by Liszt, Greta confesses that after her loss, her loved ones have become just elusive ghosts - and Francis learns her story in her confession.
A couple of frank conversations - and the metaphorical mother and daughter seem to have found each other and finally become a family in this bitter city. Francis goes to help Greta choose a dog at the shelter, which, according to the New York rules, should be put to sleep tomorrow - the furry dog Morton (like the revived hero of "The Island of Dogs") is taken home. Ahead are general dinners, risotto and a bottle of red wine - and Francis's terrible discovery that Greta has a whole closet of handbags with documents (everything is mounted in a trailer, so this is almost not a spoiler), and their date was rigged. Francis doesn't trust Greta, but Greta doesn't really care because she's a real maniac (which is also clear from the trailer). And then one after another charming clichés.
“Embraced by Lies” cleverly juggles the expectations of the viewer who knows every movement of the heroes in advance (too many detective stories and thrillers have been watched), but puts a severed finger, chatter in Hungarian, or stories about the Paris Conservatory into each scene. Understanding why and why Neil Jordan does it.
Stalkers are a very common criminal phenomenon and the most important trope of a thriller: a disturbed sense of security is a source of anxiety and paranoia of the character, with whom viewers are supposed to identify with.Detectives are replete with imagery of inventive stalkers using fiction ("Cape of Fear", "Lonely White Woman"), but Greta Hidig acts head-on. Keeping a safe distance for herself (according to the law, Greta cannot be pursued by the police - not enough reason), she is on duty at the windows of the restaurant in a trench coat, sends bouquets of lilies (flowers of death) and calls on the phone. The New York criminal environment is such that claims of stalking are considered for months - and Greta knows about it. Her arrogance and assertiveness border on self-exposure, so Mrs. Hidig becomes both very dangerous for the main character and a parody of a femme fatale with insidious intent. A strict image in a trench coat, remarks about "the main thing in a lady" (shoes and gloves), black manicure - Greta gives out everything with giblets. But everyone around them is busy with themselves and do not pick up such signals.
Don't go to the basement
Reckless acts that violate the basic rules of caution are another important cliche of thrillers, slashers and horror movies. “Let's split up and look for help!”, “Oh, where does this door lead to?”, “Neighbors are doing repairs again and knocking hard”, “What good wine, but can I still have a glass?”, “I hardly know you, but I for some reason I want to tell you everything. " “Embraced by Lies” gently deals with the imprudence of touching and inexperienced heroes hoping for a miracle of worlds unfamiliar to them. That a dark house only seems scary, but in fact does not carry any danger in itself. That a stranger is definitely a good person. That something pleasant awaits behind the door. And to come to a stranger's home alone is a good idea. The script by Neil Jordan is crammed with stupid actions, despite which we are still terribly worried about the main character.
The gun must go off
Another important rule of the thriller is that an accidentally thrown part will definitely work out its own. A ticking metronome will help you find your victim. Liszt's piece of music will freeze you more than once or twice. The rolling pin and cookie cutters are here for a reason. The gum will fly into the hair. The habit of posting stories for any reason can be beneficial. The "box" will turn out to be more than just a metaphor. The Paris Conservatory materializes in the form of a ridiculous Eiffel Tower figurine, which is sold to lazy tourists for one euro. Wine glasses will beat with noticeable regularity. The sleeping pills, which are poured in the film for everyone in turn, will come in handy sooner or later. Jordan's script, sewn with white thread, begs to be juxtaposed, quick to guess, and praise yourself for your wits - like any predictable second-row movie. And the author knows about it.
Naive blonde in trouble
Chloe Grace Moretz tries on the image of a naive sheep in the clutches of a merciless predator. The gullible blonde, to which all forces are thrown into the hunt, is the hook of many thrillers and detective stories: from the Hitchcock classics to Basic Instinct and It with the same Mike Monroe. Many pretty Hollywood actresses complain that playing a vulnerable girl as a consumable is the most common starter offer in the industry. Chloe Grace Moretz, capable of both an ironic superhero role in Kick-Ass and her character starlet in Sils Maria, chooses here an easy image of the right hunted girl - there are almost no such people in the cinema of 2019.
Merciless big city
Adult life is unfair, and newcomers to the metropolis are the most vulnerable, gullible people in the world. New York constantly appears in the film as a formally comfortable but inhospitable city. Here you can ride a bike and meet for coffee, live in an expensive loft and work in a nice restaurant. But everywhere there are strict rules, there are not that many real friends, the dogs are put to sleep on the fifth day after the loss by their owners, and the police do not care about your statements about fear for their lives - until there is a corpse.And when it just starts to seem that a nice lady lives in a cozy old-fashioned house with a courtyard and is treated to good coffee, this idyllic retreat reveals a double bottom.
Mother, daughter and superficial psychoanalysis
At the dawn of the genre, thrillers and detectives explained maniacs through the prism of psychoanalysis: the first half of the culture of the 20th century, when the cinema genres were just taking shape, passed under the sign of Freud. Slavoj ižek in "Pervert's Guide" softly and easily explains how the canon extends to modern cinema - and instead of Hitchcock, we, for example, look at the child-parental traumas of Marvel or DC superheroes. The figure of Greta is built on the typical image of a "neglected psychopath" with unrealized motherhood. Emotionally dependent on her, Francis is an orphan who, according to the exact observation of a straightforward friend, is looking for a convenient replacement for her mother. Painful scenario of mother and daughter, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons - the base of legendary thrillers (from "Chinatown" to "Silence of the Lambs") and an easily solved puzzle that makes watching "In the Arms of Lies" predictable and convenient. Unlike the multi-layered theme of motherhood in the same "Suspiria", Greta and Francis are not so difficult to understand and therefore predictable.
Many overly naive protagonists always have a counterbalance in the plot - such a sidekick for a thriller, standing firmly on the ground and seeing through people. The heroine of Mikey Monroe Eric, as they say, steals the show - she perfectly understands how much, is able to take the distance even in a moment of panic and knows how to survive in a big city: apartments in Tribeca just don't fall from the sky. It is such friends who come to the rescue when the others cannot add two plus two, and find the strength to bang the maniac from all over the head.
Demon with good manners
Maniacs are always marginal, but more often than not they hide behind a facade of decency. This is also true of Greta - it is her becoming, the European accent, refined manners and finely selected wardrobe that inspire confidence in Francis. Most maniacs and people with psychopathy have impeccable style, are tidy in everyday life and have a number of aesthetic views and habits that immediately captivate. Greta has this understanding of cooking and a love of good wine, a dedication to classical music and a natural sense of beauty (pay attention to the interior, costumes and evening menu, as well as a note about Chablis). It disarms Frances, who has a penchant for being “right” and humble, and resonates with her need to spend time intellectually - not colonoscopy and spa with a punchy and charming but superficial girlfriend.
Fear and laughter
Suspense is built on fear for the main character, but the most intelligent and inventive thrillers (for example, both scary and hilarious films by Brian De Palma) have always insisted on the inseparability of the terrible and the funny: attractive fear is always charming and entertaining. To dilute the generated tension with a severed finger and a passing situation from ordinary life, turn on the classics, when the victim is torn to a bed in another room, put teddy bears in a homemade coffin, eat a good dinner for murder - laughter gives the necessary relief from anxiety in "Embrace of Lies" And when the deadly box is closed with the most philistine and penny symbol of Europe - a small figure of the Eiffel Tower - Neil Jordan will smile goodbye: thrillers like satirical stories about “just blood” have not yet forgotten how to shoot - and this is great.