Sapphic Cinema: “The Four-Faced Liar”

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Dear Marja-Lewis Ryan,

I hope this review finds you well. I feel an odd certainty that it will find you. You are not on Twitter, which is probably wise, and your Facebook profile seems personal, rather than professional. (Weirdly, we have one person in common, who is the ex-boyfriend of a college friend who herself now has a girlfriend. I would really love to know how the two of you know each other).

But overall, I am satisfied with our one connection being this review and the movie that inspired it, 2010’s The Four-Faced Liar, because based purely on your screenplay and performance, I already feel as though we already know one another very well.

ffl1JUST FUCKING CHANGE THE DIRECTION OF THE BLANKET, OKAY?

The Four-Faced Liar has been terribly wronged by its Rotten Tomatoes score—a paltry 44%—though I think it suffers from being two or three years ahead of its time, and because of the inexplicable bitterness of its last scene (we’ll get to that). But in spite of the ratings, this is one movie I’m glad to have in the canon, representing our generation as it does with neither the self-loathing nor self-indulgence found in so many millennial films. If nothing else, The Four-Faced Liar puts plenty of other queer movies to shame in its high production values and strong performances, especially since it was the first cinematic endeavor of a bunch of theatre geeks, and its budget couldn’t have been any larger than that of Elena Undone’.

Our story begins (as most stories do) in New York. (It kind of dates the movie that all the characters live in the West Village, as opposed to Brooklyn or, increasingly, Queens.) But anyway, here we are, so let’s meet our characters, divided roughly into two couples. (Another possible explanation for the low RT score is that all the advertising for this movie indicates that they are two heterosexual couples because I guess you can’t explain that some straight men and gay women are just friends in the space of a blurb.)

First up are Greg and Molly, the WASPiest WASPs to ever try and get jizz off a cardigan.

ffl2JUST SCRUB IT WITH CLUB SODA! I FEEL LIKE EVERYONE KNOWS THAT.

Greg moves into Molly’s apartment after college, so they can participate in the Crazy New York Adventure that is a staple of a fully-lived American life. Sadly, their version of Crazy New York Adventures involve ordering two mimosas at brunch and bravely smiling at minorities. In anticipation, Molly has even neatly divided the drawers.

ffl3AND IF YOU SO MUCH AS OPEN IT, I WILL END YOU.

On the other end of the adulthood spectrum are Trip and Bridget, who steadfastly refuse to grow up, and live in a violently furnished yet scruffily charming apartment above a bodega.

ffl4WHAT THE FUCK ELSE ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO IN THIS ECONOMY.

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