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Telling Lies In America Review

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Karchy and father are pinning their hopes on the American Citizen Exams for the beginning of Karchy's bright future, but his coming-of-age pursuit of excitement, in the form of sex and a shady club scene, begin to lead him from the path perviously carved out.

★★★★★

The initial impression given by this modest little movie is of another pop-musical period piece, tugging on the spangly coat-tails of That Thing You Do! and Grace Of My Heart. But where such nostalgia trips have bathed in an indulgent, rosy glimmer, a creditable air of earthy realism blows among these Cadillac fins and gelled quiffs, with shiny but shallow 60s pop a perfect metaphor for the tarnishing American dream. Such sensitivity is all the more surprising in that it issues from the pen of normally salacious scripter Joe Eszterhas.

This is coming-of-age, rites-of-passage stuff, with the focus on fame-hungry Karchy (Renfro). Following the usual rules of combat - pursuit of girls and sex, standing up for oneself, discovering the tricksy burden of morality - accepted teen troubles are made more awkward by his Hungarian descent and accent. And as the American citizenship exams he and his father are pinning their hopes on loom, Karchy wheedles his way into the employ of charismatic but shady DJ Billy Magic (Bacon), which may or may not be a smart move. All flashy front and broadcast patter, Bacon is in sly, effective form - his character as much an outsider as his youthful co-star's - with Renfro's equally solid performance backing up decent turns in Sleepers, The Client and The Cure, and securing him the current top spot among his generation. Maximilian Schell is rather wasted as Dr. Jonas, but Flockhart is rightly given greater room to shine than in The Birdcage as the reluctant object of Karchy's affections.

A carefully evoked and unhurried number that won't bring the house down, this nonetheless ends up being more absorbing than you'd think.

A carefully evoked and unhurried number that won't bring the house down, this nonetheless ends up being more absorbing than you'd think.