August 19, 2008

Written by Cal Kemp

Even at initial glance, “Yesterday was a Lie” offers something with truly distinct visual flair and no small amount of intrigue. Joyously anachronistic, writer/director James Kerwin’s world should delight film fans new and old with a neo-noir sci-fi detective flick in high-contrast black and white. The mood and the style is all there; rainy streets and smoky clubs, long trench coats and tilted fedoras, nighttime and city lights and beautiful women with dark secrets.

But at its core, “Yesterday was a Lie” is something else altogether, making it one of the true joys of the festival circuit right now. Somewhere between a requiem to a lost love and a metaphysical poem, “Lie” plays with some very big ideas in a way undaunted by its indie budget.

The story begins with Kipleigh Brown’s Hoyle, designed by Kerwin as Lauren Bacall in a trademark Humphrey Bogart role of a down-on-her-luck hard-drinking detective with just the right connections on both sides of the law. She’s stumbling onto an investigation that proves to be a lot bigger than she had originally thought; one that calls into question the very nature of reality.

There’s a surreal nature to Hoyle’s character that Brown manages to balance nicely. On the one hand, she has to play with a determination while, on the other, we’re meant to feel the imbalance of her in the role.

Genre fans are no strangers to Chase Masterson (best known for playing Leeta on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”) who also serves as producer on “Lie”. Her performance is really something special here, bringing her considerable singing talent into front-focus with her undeniable charisma and putting forth the perfect rendition of a sultry lounge singer. Masterson’s vocals alone could make a noir worthwile but her chemistry with Brown is really something special; Halfway between a conscience and a spirit guide, Masterson’s singer is the other side of Hoyle’s same coin.

There are number of other nice acting touches that add some recognizable genre talent without ever coming across as gimmicky including Peter Mayhew sans Chewbacca-makeup and the voice of NPR host Robert Siegel, among several others.

The real star of “Lie,” though, may be Kerwin himself. The film is so clearly a personal effort on his part that the end result winds up midway between metaphysical poetry and a love song imbued with thoughts and feelings to which any film fan can relate. This is unquestionably the work of an auteur and I’m very anxious to see where Kerwin’s next project may bring him.

“Yesterday was a Lie” is now touring festivals around the country and is well-worth watching out for to catch on the big screen. Rarely do you come across such a modest production so balanced in heart, soul and mind, not to mention a sizable amount of style. For noir fans, sci-fi fans or just plain film fans, “Lie” absolutely delivers.

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