Stephen Dorff, Gabrielle Anwar, Adrian Dunbar
Directed by Patrick Dewolf
1995 88 minutes
MGM Home Video 2005
Innocent Lies is a very tight mystery where little time is wasted and every single frame of the movie is gorgeous. This is a very British mystery a la Hercule Poirot and so on. Set in southern France in 1938 it manages to tie in an incestuous relationship between a brother and sister, four murders, the tension Jews lived under in France, a couple of love interests and all this without the viewer ever losing track of what is going on.
British detective Alan Cross (Adrian Dunbar) comes to France to investigate the apparent suicide of his mentor detective Joe Green. Like Green, he quickly gets sucked into the very weird lives of the Graves family and its matriarch Nazi sympathizer. He soon learn that Jeremy Graves, the son, accidentally killed his brother when he was eleven, that he and Celia are very, very close, that Celia’s first wedding was cancelled after her husband-to-be died in a car accident, that Jeremy is married to a German Jew, mostly to annoy his mother, that Celia is going to get married again, and that the daughter of the local police prefect, also a detective of sorts, is a Jew and has the hots for him. All this while he takes care of his young daughter. Yes, it sounds convoluted for a thriller but it most certainly is not and the ending is certainly surprising.
Innocent Lies is a very beautifully shot movie with lots of Art Deco and surrealist art lying around. All the performances are absolutely solid, especially that of Leonardo DiCaprio look-alike Stephen Dorff and Gabrielle Anwar. Flashbacks to the accidental death of Jeremy and Celia’s brother feature Keira Knightley as young Celia. The movie is a very good whodunit that is a very good and entertaining watch but, oddly enough, not particularly memorable.
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