Lying and Stealing (2019) – Summary, Review (with Spoilers)

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Lying and Stealing is a quick film which may not leave a lasting impact but is a pleasant way to kill an hour and a half.


Director(s) Matt Aselton
Screenplay By Matt Aselton, Adam Nagata
Date Released 7/12/2019
Genre(s) Crime, Drama
Good If You Like
  • Following A Thief Trying To Clear Their Debt
  • A Decent Brotherhood Story
Isn’t For You If You Want A Female Lead Who Is Well Beyond A Love Interest
Noted Cast
Ivan Theo James
Elyse Emily Ratajkowski
Ray Ebon Moss-Bachrach
Lyman Wilkers Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Dimitri Fred Melamed

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Lying and Stealing Plot Summary & Review

Thanks to his father, Ivan has long worked with a man named Dimitri to clear his father’s debt. Something that his brother, Raymond, barely, if ever, helps with. But, with growing tired of stealing for Dimitri, Ivan tries to figure out when is he going to be done? It isn’t made clear how long her has been working, but with the items getting harder to get, and Dimitri dictating terms, it’s understandably frustrating. So, with the last few pieces set, Ivan pursues clearing his dad’s debt and moving on with his life.

That is, if a new woman in his life, Elyse, or an FBI agent, Lyman Wilkers, don’t end up bringing him down or getting him killed.

Highlights

Ratajkowski

While taking note Ratajkowski isn’t necessarily stretching her abilities as an actress, you have to admit she plays the role of the charming girlfriend well. One who seems to have a mischievous side to her and while, as many of her characters, the writing is thin, she works with it. Not enough to say she could do so much more, but she had definitely found a niche she is comfortable in.

On The Fence

The Brotherhood Between Ivan and Ray

To a certain degree, you’d think between the issue of their father’s debt and Ray struggling a bit, there would be a more emotional, perhaps volatile at times, relationship between Ivan and Ray. Yeah, that doesn’t exist. Often, Ray doesn’t seem more than a light-hearted fellow with issues, never really dove into, that Ivan is obligated to help because he is his sibling. And with Ray either covering his tracks, or just not being much of a bother, Ivan rarely feels the need to talk to him, confront him, or flesh out their childhoods a bit more.

Agent Wilkers & Dimitri When Working With Ivan

Ivan did go to art school, and is clever, but there is something about him which makes you think the way James plays him vs. how Ivan is written doesn’t match up. Like James gave Ivan an edge and made him a low-budget action hero. One who didn’t get as many fight scenes, but was put in situations where he had to almost act like a spy and present enough charm to make people complacent. Which seemingly was at the expense of Agent Wilkers and Dimitri.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Dimitri does still present himself as a Greek thug, head of a small-time crime organization type. It’s just, between him and Agent Wilkers, something about those two seems more comical than formidable. Not to imply they are tripping all over themselves like they’re in Three Stooges film, but as serious as James makes their interactions seem, there is this weird disconnect. Like they aren’t all acting with the same expectations, in tone, for the movie.

Lying and Stealing Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

The reason Lying and Stealing is being labeled “Mixed” primarily is due from there just being something off about this film. Maybe it is due to James seeming like he isn’t on the same page as everyone else? Perhaps it is that, as much as you can see there should be a more complicated relationship between Ivan, Ray, and their father, that is graced over? Heck, maybe it is due to Elyse being your usual love interest, with minimum depth, or Dimitri and Agent Wilkers not really written, or performed, to have nuance.

To be honest, this is one of those films where if you overthink about it, it will quickly lead to your enjoyment descending. So take it easy, just enjoy Ivan stealing things and, usually, getting away with it, and you’ll have a good time.

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