In cinemas on 2 October
Set in a parallel universe where no one can lie, let alone comprehend a lie, The Invention of Lying starts off as a fresh and clever satire. In this world, the better-looking you are, the happier you are and, unfortunately for Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais), his poor genes and “snub-nose” face puts him on the bottom of the food chain. His looks: chubby and slightly below average. His love life: one failure after another. His job: well, he gets fired from his job within the first thirty minutes of the film.
Despite his unlucky genetic circumstances, Mark is set-up on a blind date with the genetically preferred Anna, played by Jennifer Garner. Her good looks, good job and tall stature place her way out of Mark’s league and he knows this. So does everyone else. Following this dreadful date with the girl of his dreams, Mark awakes the next morning only to be fired from his job by his nervous-wreck of a boss (Jeffery Tambor) and ridiculed by his hard ass of a secretary (Tina Fey). But when all seems lost for Mark, he quickly develops the ability to lie. And this changes everything. Literally everything.
After discovering his ability to say, “what wasn’t,” Mark learns that his mother is about to die. In an attempt to ease his mother’s fear of death he tells her that she should not be afraid and that she is going to a wonderful place in the sky. Since no one can tell a lie, Marks honest efforts result in a media frenzy. Everyone wants to know how he knows where you go after you die and within a few hours, Mark becomes the center of holy inquiry. Despite being a public atheist, Mr. Gervais’ performance as a messiah is rather convincing and unnervingly profound. Furthermore, the questions that arise out of Mark’s religious role make up the real meat of the film. The Invention of Lying addresses very serious issues with regards to afterlife and religion in a very comedic way. It’s an atypical theology for a feature film, but a most affecting one.
The central plot of the film – the fact that no one can lie – is a clever one, but you start to wonder how long this joke can last. The truth is, it can’t. With that said, the story retains your attention with a constant onslaught of cameo performances including actors, Tina Fey, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill. Edward Norton’s cameo as a coke-addicted racist cop was by far the most entertaining. However, following each scene with yet another celebrity appearance was somewhat of a distraction and overshadowed Garner’s brilliant performance. Her deadpan delivery is one that will hopefully not be overlooked. Finally, despite not actually being “the best film ever made” The Invention of Lying is worth the trip to the theater. If you are fan of Ricky Gervais, this film is for you.