18th Sep2019

‘Lie Low’ Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Debra Baker, Isis Davis, Alfie Field, Ryan Hayes, Jake Phillips Head, James Hyland, Andi Jashy, Jasmine Jobson, Craig Miller, Joshua Osei, Elinah Saleh, Taz Skylar, Johnny Vivash | Written and Directed by Jamie Noel

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Starting with a stabbing and quite a bit of artistic flare, Lie Low‘s story immediately join an English family as they flee an awful event to “lie low” (as the title suggests). We travel from the grim night of a terrible crime in urban Gillingham, to the beautiful Morning Countryside of France, where a couple of the family members are already living. The contrast is striking as our fish out of water characters struggle to make the transition. Early on, we can discern that trust within the family is in short supply and there are secrets to slowly unpick. The TV doesn’t work and as our family have fled, they have brought little to do so all they have to do is to talk to each other (and occasionally Google things for plot reasons). There is an interesting dynamic, where the sister is the strict matriarch of the family holding everything together while the Mum is reduced to surly, lying teenager. In the meantime, dark forces begin to hunt our, not so happy family.

Lie Low comes from Jamie Noel, making his first feature film after several shorts going all the way back to 2006 (which I have not seen). It is a simple story of crime and criminal activity but really it is a story about people. It is low budget, but the camera work shows real skill, the acting is at times workman-like but at times good (I was particularly impressed with Elinah Saleh). There is a relatively large cast for a low budget film with speaking parts, but the film manages to cope with this (something that frequently undermines low budget films).

The film does a good job of establishing our interesting family of characters and unpacking their complicated history and (mostly failing) relationships. The film manages this through believable and authentic feeling dialog. The exposition is given in very natural feeling conversations between our characters that flows nicely and gives us a clear window into who these people are. What is interesting, and I am sure intentional is that our cast of characters live in a bubble, an underclass that seems to go under the notice of the rest of society until terrible acts are committed.

The weather plays an important part in the tone of Lie Low too and, impressively, our characters tend to be shades of grey rather than good or bad. Even our sinister antagonist has good reason for wanting his revenge and even that does not play out as one might assume it would. I was having fun with the idea that the film is an allegory for Brexit but who is the real villain in the piece? It is true that the weakest link in the family seems to pull them all down, but the real villain seems to be poverty. The ending of Lie Low will stay with me that’s for sure.

Make sure to check out our interview with writer/director Jamie Noel right here, and you can watch Lie Low now on Amazon Prime and other VOD platforms.

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