Fifteen year-old, Long Island-resident Howie is a rich kid trying to find his identity. Ignored by his widower father and unsure of his sexuality, he hangs out with a group of delinquent housebreakers, which is how he meets one of the disgruntled victims of a break-in, Big John Harrigan...
While L.I.E. is nominally a rites-of-passage tale about the adolescent Howie, the significant portions of the film are those featuring Brian Cox's unnervingly pleasant pederast, Big John.
A giant of a man dressed always in hunting gear, we never doubt his status as a predator - when he finds a scrap of Howie's jeans in his newly broken-into basement, he holds it to his nose, smelling his prey. Not even in Manhunter - as the first screen incarnation of Hannibal Lecter - was Cox quite as menacing.
The film contains nothing specifically graphic or disturbing, but nevertheless Cuesta brilliantly uses the power of suggestion and viewers' expectations to make it a constantly challenging experience. The scene in which Big John helps Howie shave with a cutthroat razor is benign yet terrifying, a brilliant lesson in directorial control. Added moments of dark humour bring even more impact to an already impressive movie.
Featuring the performance of a lifetime from Cox, L.I.E fearlessly asks questions that other films don't dare to. Cuesta is a name to watch.