"Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really want...I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ahh!"
- Scary Spice
I can't believe I'm saying this, but the world--and this movie--could use a little more spice...Scary Spice to be exact. Melanie Brown--the former Spice Girl and Dancing with the Stars runner-up--actually situates herself just fine in front of the camera, showing a naturalness and likeable charm. She provides a little light in the otherwise perfunctory but not awful Telling Lies, a 2006 U.K. thriller that must be a television or direct-to-video release.
She stars as Maggie Thomas, a detective who brings in schoolgirl Faith Munro (Jenna Harrison) for questioning in the murder of a young man. The first half of the film is told in flashback from the interrogation room: We learn that Faith is a troubled youth at an exclusive school, still morning the suicide death of her mother while father jack (Jason Flemyng) tries to be a good parent. Faith has also just been dumped by Derek (Matt Di Angelo) in favor of school snob Portia (Algina Lipskis). Into this mess walks Eve Forrester (Kelly Stables, who besides providing the voice of "Schnitzel Kid 1" in Hoodwinked!, appeared in The Ring Two and returns in The Ring Three), an American student whose parents perished in a plane crash.
She's a smoking, class-skipping troublemaker ("Hey, I'm American! I never let an education get in the way of a good time!") who soon comes up with an idea to help Faith make Derek jealous--spread the word that Faith is dating a hot Oxford student named Vincent. She even doctors a photo of the two, picking a random guy off a dating website. The plan works--until the apparently "fake" man in the photos turns up dead, Faith's pen rammed through his esophagus. And guess what his name is?
Faith is suddenly the prime suspect--and the mysterious Eve is no where to be found, with no record of her even existing. In fact, you'll realize that Eve never meets, speaks with or is even seen by anyone else. Is some fiendish plot at work, or has Faith gone a little bonkers and created a different personality responsible for the mess? It's a pretty simple and straightforward setup, and the film--a "junior" mystery--is just decent enough to keep you mildly interested in the outcome. It's a lightweight thriller aimed at young girls, full of some silly twists and enough profanity (in some equally silly dialogue) to keep the kids entertained.
Brown has a relatively small role, which picks up in the second half when the film jumps to present day. You'll figure out the ending before everyone else does, and even though the finish is kinda funny ("How's that for spontaneous!"), the movie could have been a lot worse. And maybe that's the problem--the film plays it safe, not good enough to be taken seriously but not bad enough to more absurdly entertaining than it is. It's a time passer--but movies far worse than this are usually more fun, and not just adaquate affairs like Telling Lies.
Presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer, the film is listed online as being 2.35:1, but to my eye it seemed a smidge off that mark. It's an average effort that has brief (but noticeable) picture shaking at times. There's some grain and its not very sharp, but decent enough to pass muster.
The 2.0 audio track also isn't the best. You'll never struggle to hear anything, but there's a fluctuation in the sound from scene to scene, with voices sometimes sounding more isolated and further away.
A low-level, "junior" thriller that has a TV/direct-to-video feel, Telling Lies isn't good enough to recommend, but it isn't bad enough to make it awful. It does just enough to keep you mildly interested in its outcome, even if you know where it's going. And guess what? Melanie Brown ain't so scary after all! With a target audience of young girls, the film is passable--which is sometimes the worst crime. Rent It, but only if the shelves are bare.