Saturday, 19 September 2020
The Invention of Lying
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
inventionoflyingposterHave you heard the news? Groundbreaking scientific discoveries have been made proving that there is an actual man who lives in the sky and controls everything! He decides when we are born, how we die, when our toilets overflow or we trip over our shoelaces, who lives in poverty or in a mansion… Oh yeah, actually we all get a mansion when we die so what does it really matter? All of this must be true because some guy said so.

This is the type of “fiction” Ricky Gervais is able to spout when he discovers how to lie in The Invention of Lying. Mark Bellison (Gervais) lives in a world much like ours, except in his world no one is able to tell a lie. In fact, they don’t even have a word for lying. This makes things rather boring since without lies there is no fiction and without fiction there isn’t really much entertainment either. This makes Mark’s job rather difficult since he’s a screenwriter whose sole assignment is to write about the 1300’s. Watching a dry historical recounting of the Black Plague is no ones idea of a good time.

inventionoflyingpic1He’s about to be fired from his job, and to make matters worse he has blown his one chance to impress Anna (Jennifer Garner), who is the girl of his dreams. On their first date she bluntly tells him that she finds him unattractive, will never sleep with him and doesn’t want his genetic material mixing with hers to produce chubby, snub nosed children. How’s that for brutal honesty!? But Mark’s life changes one day when he realizes he can say things that are “not so”.

Consider for a moment that you are the only person in the world who can lie. Imagine the power that would give you? Mark actually does pretty well considering he could have or do anything he wants with this newfound ability since no one even doubts that what he says is 100% true. Instead he really does try to make the world better, not just for himself but for everyone.

inventionoflyingpic2The Invention of Lying is a fantastic concept for a movie, but I found it to be a little bland. It’s enjoyable but not groundbreaking, and the brilliant jabs at society are lost within a formulaic love story between two people who frankly shouldn’t really be together. Anna throws enough insults at him to qualify as verbal abuse, though she is only being honest, and it takes her far too long to realize his true worth as a person. Mark nobly refrains from using his ability to influence her, even when it means almost losing her to his worst enemy.

My biggest issue with this movie is how mean spirited it is. Just because a person can’t lie doesn’t mean they have to volunteer insults constantly. Poor Mark is a good-hearted person, yet he is constantly berated as being “fat”, “ugly”, or “a loser”. In fact he is a sweet person and Gervais conveys this very well in an especially touching moment where he comforts his mother on her death bed. This is where the big lies about the afterlife begin, and he has no idea what an impact it will have on so many lives.

The Invention of Lying is enjoyable but it just doesn’t realize its full potential.