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The Invention of Lying

In a world where everyone can only tell the truth... this guy can lie. 

Year: 2009 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson 
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill  
An image from The Invention of Lying

Mark Bellison (Gervais) is a loser. This is even truer in a world in which nobody can lie - he is objectively unattractive, unsuccessful and unambitious. He is on the verge of being fired from his job as a screenwriter, he is mocked mercilessly by his co-workers, and dismissed out of hand by love interest Anna (Garner). However, things improve when Mark discovers that he, and only he, has the ability to lie.

As one might expect, this leads to instantaneous wealth and success, as Mark realises the benefits of telling porkies. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and when his mother becomes gravely ill, Mark inadvertently creates religion for a world which previously had none. Now Mark has to come to terms with his status as a religious prophet as well as convincing Anna that, despite the obvious evolutionary pitfalls of having a band of little fat kids with snub noses, he might just be the man of her dreams.

The Invention of Lying is Ricky Gervais's hilarious directorial debut, offering a unique blend of the cringe-inducing embarrassment of The Office, and the more traditional pleasures of the Hollywood romantic comedy. Gervais delivers an excellent performance in the lead role, building on his sensitive turn in the underrated Ghost Town. Whilst plot inconsistencies inevitably result from the outlandish nature of the concept, the gags are so well-written and come so thick and fast, these issues become almost redundant. The supporting cast are also excellent, with Rob Lowe impressing particularly as Brad, Mark's slimy, narcisisstic rival for Anna's hand. The Invention of Lying will tickle the funny bone and thoroughly entertain for its duration, clearly indicating that Gervais's transition from British television comedian to Hollywood leading man is almost complete.

Greg Frame

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Screenings of this film:

2009/2010 Spring Term (35mm)