When successful scribes provide advice to novices along the lines of “write what you know,” they don’t really mean that writers should relate a thinly disguised version of their own personal history, but that’s more than anything else how Phil Allocco’s lame rom-com comes across. Ineptly conceived and indifferently produced, The Truth About Lies aptly demonstrates why VOD is really the best platform for a certain category of indie features.
It wouldn’t be so bad if anything here seemed remotely fresh or quirky, but instead Allocco delivers worn platitudes and hackneyed situations, beginning with his protagonist Gilby Smalls’ (Fran Kranz) epic meltdown. Gilby isn’t just having a bad day, he’s having, like, the worst day of his life, after getting fired from his thankless retail job (undeserved), watching his outer-borough apartment burn down (unexplained) and then getting dumped by his girlfriend (well-deserved and over-explained). Or maybe Sharon (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) isn’t actually his girlfriend anymore, since she’s already dating an annoyingly handsome and cultured Brit bisexual dude. Lacking any other alternatives, Gilby moves back in with his mom May (Colleen Camp), who’s about as happy to see him as a bad skin rash. Things unexpectedly look up when he attends an awkward party and learns that his best friend Kevin (Miles Fisher) has a very attractive sister, but then she turns out to be very married.
Nothing new here.
By that point, however, Gilby’s smooth untruths have already convinced Rachel (Odette Annable) that he’s a genuine spiritual quester and he’s somehow charmed her husband Eric (Chris Diamantopolous) into offering him a temporary position heading up his digital design company while Eric is out of the country for a few weeks. Gilby tries to attribute his change of circumstances to Kevin, who advised him to “fake it until you make it,” which has resulted in Rachel taking a particular interest in Gilby while Eric is out of town. As their growing friendship begins to hint at intimacy, the situation leaves them both wondering what they want from it, but Gilby is particularly conflicted, considering that almost everything he’s told Rachel about himself is an outright lie.
It’s a pity though that Gilby’s comeuppance doesn’t come along quicker, which might put a swifter end to this interminably annoying movie. While his lying may be problematic, it’s not nearly as grating as his constant whining and complaining. Although the behavior of the women closest to him is less than exemplary, at least they have some sass and conviction.
With her snobby attitude and snappy retorts, Supergirl’s Annable runs rings around Kranz, who’s reduced to panting like a desperate puppy whenever he’s in her presence. Ellis overplays the haughty ex-girlfriend role a bit, but maintains a modicum of humility when forced to admit her faults, an example Kranz’s smug Gilby might have done well to follow.
Allocco directs with sitcom-stiff rigidity that ignores too many opportunities for visual comedy and overplays the few moments at its disposal, which adds little to the terminally self-satisfied scripting.
Production companies: Rumpus Entertainment, Intrinsic Value Films, Make Things Work
Distributor: Blue Fox Entertainment
Cast: Fran Kranz, Odette Annable, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Chris Diamantopolous, Colleen Camp, Miles Fisher, Arthur J. Nascarella, Laura Kightlinger
Director-writer: Phil Allocco
Producers: Phil Allocco, Steve Carr, Jason Taragan, Isen Robbins, Aimee Schoof, Colleen Camp, Tim Degraye, Kim Jackson
Executive producers: Janice Fidler, Blondel Aidoo, Deborah Maguire
Director of photography: Peter Mariuzza
Production designer: Deana Sidney
Costume designer: Kama Royz
Editors: Nick Carew, Eva Gardos
Music: Adam Horovitz
Casting directors: Sig De Miguel, Stephen Vincent