Hollywood must be doing cartwheels to catch the eyes of writer/director duo Josh and Jonas Pate. In an era where young directors can now actually open pictures these identical twins, with their pin-up good looks and reverance towards American cinema, seem an instant shoo-in for big-budget productions but judging by this, their second indie feature, they may have to drop the pen and focus solely on the directors' chairs.
Liar (known as Deceiver in the States), is a taut psychological thriller filled with red herrings, double bluffs and the obligatory surprise ending now de rigeur in all independent productions. Roth is John Wayland, a rich drop-out who is prime suspect for the murder of prostitute Zellweger (now dating Josh Pate). Subjected to a lie detector test by cops Penn and Rooker, Wayland not only cheats the machine but plays warped mind games with his investigators. As the days go by, the seedy background of each man surfaces and the finger of suspicion is poked into every ambiguous alibi.
While the cast, including cameos by Ellen Burstyn and Rosanna Arquette, all pull their weight (though Roth's method schtick is now becoming one-dimensional), both the script and structure of the film remain lightweight. Liar is basically three men in a room trying to call each other's bluff with second-hand dialogue and poorly timed flashbacks. The one overriding factor is the gushing talent of the brothers Pate, which drips from the screen with each peculiar set piece. Watching the lie detector machine being set up is reminiscent of early Spielberg while the disposal of the corpse is pure Coppola. If anything, Liar shows that Josh and Jonas are the best new filmmakers on the block.