Lying And Stealing

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24th November 2019

Not The Most Successful Heist But Still An Entertaining One

We all have something we’re extremely good at. It might be solving the most difficult crossword puzzles in no time, writing the most lyrical poems or drawing a superb painting.

Ivan’s strength is stealing the most remarkable art pieces. His job is unique, impressive and dangerous one. Sadly, we can’t say the same about the latest film from director Matt Aselton (“Gigantic”) “Lying And Stealing”.

Aselton takes you to Los Angeles to one of those extravagant house parties. There are the mandatory swimming pool, the booze and the expensive art pieces. It’s clear that Ivan (Theo James) isn’t on the guestlist for this fancy party or at least we hope not because otherwise, the host will regret it for the rest of his life.

Anyway, he got in. Ivan is an extremely skill full art thief and while he’s ready to snatch away his next work, he encounters the beautiful and clever actress Elyse (Emily Ratajkowski). Their meeting is brief but little do they know that they would meet up again during another decadent party many weeks later.

This party is for Elyse a great opportunity to get her next big film role while Ivan is present to steal another valuable piece of art. All because they need to pay off their debts. They decide to help each other out and that’s the beginning of their journey together. Not only in a professional but also in a personal way.

The further their journey takes them, the more complications are presenting themselves. Ivan’s bipolar brother Ray (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) is turning up, the cops tailing Ivan and a famous director taking revenge on Elyse. How will Ivan and Elyse escape from all the revenge, uncertainty, debts, and betrayal?

While watching this film, many other movies come to mind such as “To Catch a Thief”, “Charade” and “How to Steal a Million”. “Lying and Stealing” is just like them: Theft, art, who to trust and an intriguing couple. This latest work from Aselton, that he co-wrote with Adam Nagata (“Gigantic”), doesn’t reach the same level as those films.

A story about art theft, a thrilling heist and dishonesty can be the start for an intriguing and exciting movie. However, that wasn’t the case for this film. It’s clear what “Lying and Stealing” wants to achieve: Being a film noir heist film that includes a handsome leading man and a stunning femme fatale. A modern Bonny and Clyde in a tuxedo and a fancy dress. While all those elements are present, they’re just not fully on-point and convincing.

The characters in this movie have the beauty but not all the substance they need to have to excel. James (“Allegiant”, “The Benefactor”) tries to give Ivan the presence this skillful and professional art thief deserves thanks to a fine and energetic performance that’s never over the top. It’s just a shame that James can’t show his full (emotional) potential as the character feels a little bit underwritten and we don’t get the chance to fully connect with him.

There’s also absolutely nothing wrong with the wonderful performance of Ratajkowski (“Welcome Home”, “I Feel Pretty”). However, just like Ivan, Elyse could have easily had a little bit more depth so that Ratajkowski could have shone even more.

If there’s one character that’s probably the most underwritten and unnecessary one, it’s without a doubt Ray, played by Moss-Bachrach (“The Big Take”, “We’ll Never Have Paris”). Again, Moss-Bachrach his performance is enjoyable but he also doesn’t get the opportunity to captivate us. It would have been better if the characters were written down with a lot more care and consideration and then they would have fit perfectly into this entertaining story.

There are also some flaws when it comes to the story itself. While it’s partly based on Aselton’s life, it’s still very predictable. The leading characters sadly fall into the ‘stereotype trap’ of this genre of film. From the moment Ivan and Elyse meet, you know how their relationship will develop throughout the movie. That being said, more towards the end, the predictability of this film declines and it shows its capability.

Despite the predictability and lack of originality, “Lying and Stealing” still passes by very quickly. This is due to the delightful heists and the funny and witty moments. It might seem that the movie will be a very slow one, especially because of the conversations at the beginning. Do stick around for the second part as it’s filled with much more action.

The heist drama might not be the most original one but that doesn’t mean that “Lying and Stealing” isn’t a film you should ignore. The funny moments, the wonderful performances of the cast and the great chemistry between the two leads provide you with a good time.

Read our interview with director Matt Aselton here.

Ivan steals art for the Greek. He wants out but can he? He meets an actress at 2 of his "jobs". She has her own problems but helps him.

Matt Aselton

Matt Aselton, Adam Nagata

Running Time:
1h 40min

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