15th Nov2019

‘Lying and Stealing’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Theo James, Emily Ratajkowski, Fred Melamed, Frank Gallegos, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Aris Alvarado, Isiah Whitlock Jr. | Written by Matt Aselton, Adam Nagata | Directed by Matt Aselton


If there’s one genre I love as much as horror it’s heist movies, in particular the kind of quirky, independent, often direct to DVD movies. Over the past few years there have been some great indie-comedy heist movies: films like Flypaper, How to Rob a Bank and The Maiden Heist – all of which I’d easily consider my favourites of the genre (Flypaper would even make my all-time favourite films list too).

And what do they have in common?

Well they all successfully balance quirky, offbeat comedy with traditional “heist-film” storytelling. They also all feature a cool and charismatic cast. And surprisingly Lying and Stealing follows suit, whilst also feeling very much like the more “glamorous” more-romantic crime caper films of the 60s.

Lying and Stealing follows Ivan (Theo James), a successful art thief, who inherited his father’s life of crime, but unlike most thieves, Ivan loves the art as much as the art of the steal. He longs to break free from the criminal world, but he is in so deep that he may never get out. It isn’t until he meets Elyse (Emily Ratajkowski) an actress and a con-woman with her own chaotic past she wants to escape from, that they team up to pull off the ultimate heist which won’t make them rich, but will set them free.

Most GOOD heist films are, at their core, actually underdog stories. A typical heist plot shows something going wrong and set the protagonists up to redeem themselves over the course of the rest of the film. Unfortunately Lying and Stealing never feels like a true underdog tale – Theo James never feels like he has to redeem himself, or is in fact struggling with anything. In fact he seems to like stealing too much to really be someone we, the audience can root for. Which makes feeling any empathy for him difficult; which in turn spoils your enjoyment of the film too.

And the love story aspect of the film doesn’t help either. James and his co-star Emily Ratajkowski don’t really have any chemistry. We should be seeing the kind of attraction between the likes of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief, or Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair. But we don’t. Instead we get two people going through the motions in a cold, unflattering manner. Which kills this film stone dead even moreso than the lack of aforementioned underdog spirit!

A film so full of wasted potential, Lying and Stealing is a bland heist film that – apart from the performance of Fred Melamed as the films villain Maropakis – is ultimately forgettable; and as such can never measure up to its heist film brethren.

Lying and Stealing is out now on digital from The Movie Partnership.


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