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Innocent Lies Review

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Irish detective Cross (Dunbar) flies out to a pretty French clifftop for the funeral of his ex-boss and ends up stopping over, ensnared by the mysterious Graves family: Nazi-sympathising Lady Helena (Joanna Lumley), son Jeremy (Dorff) and daughter Celia (Anwar), a pair whose sibling affection runs a little too deep. Intrigue and murder ensue.

★★★★★

This apparently Agatha Christie-inspired effort is a period whodunit whose French connections are writ large: a French director (Dewolf, veteran of many French commercials, co-writer of Monsieur Hire), a cross-Channel cast plus Dorff (albeit as an Englishman), and a setting "somewhere on the French coast" in the 30s. But in meshing obtuse, European artiness with an English script and bluff, British acting skills, it falls squarely between both stools.

Aside from one scene in which Cross assembles everyone in the living room following the strangulation of a major player, there is little here to align Innocent Lies to Mrs. Christie. Tension mounts as Jeremy and Celia's incestuous contract is explored and Cross, too, gets the hots for Celia, but, dramatically, this merely adds up to a string of illicit conversations in shadowy rooms and repeated flashbacks.

As a "sexually charged" exploration of forbidden love it is hampered by a wafer-thin plot. Anwar exhibits a rare, electric presence, Dunbar is solid, but aside from a few exquisitely-framed shots, the mystery here isn't "Who?" but "Why?"

One can't help but feel that if this had been made into, say, an episode of A Touch Of Frost with David Jason, it would've been a more successful potboiler.