Saturday, February 20, 2010

Religion and The Invention of Lying; you can't have one without the other.

I just watched The Invention of Lying on a DVD and came over here to the computer to try and figure out a simple way of explaining what struck me so much about it. Rather than depending on my meager skills, I did a Google search and found Roger Ebert's review from last September and he nailed it in the first paragraph. I've underlined the key phrase:
In its amiable, quiet, PG-13 way, "The Invention of Lying" is a remarkably radical comedy. It opens with a series of funny, relentlessly logical episodes in a world where everyone always tells the truth, and then slips in the implication that religion is possible only in a world that has the ability to lie. Then it wraps all of this into a sweet love story.
I will bet you any sum you wish to wager that 90% or more of the audience never grasped that. If they had, we'd have had a right wing jihad against the movie long before now.

It's funny, well-acted and filled with nice little touches like various signs that appear for adverts or on gravestones or buildings, the sorts of signage you'd expect in a world where nobody can tell a lie. I cracked up so much I had to put my beer down (and that's serious cracking-up) when I saw the sign on the old age home where Ricky Gervais character's mother is dying
A Sad Place Where Homeless Old People Come to Die
Yeah, maybe I'm anticipating the future and  my own "golden" years.

There was one plot point that bothered me throughout: not only does everyone tell the truth and nothing but the truth, but they blurt it out in all its implications at every opportunity. That does not compute. Just because you cannot lie doesn't necessarily mean you have to be honest to a fault, recounting your blind date's faults the moment you see him or telling your boss you loathed him.

Nit-pick. All in all, one of the best flicks I've seen in a while. And the scene Ebert cites where Gervais has to explain The Man In The Sky (God) to the world and try to make sense of the whole concept is truly priceless, worth renting for that alone.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure how I missed this movie, but it is now in my Netflix queue. Thanks.