Aris AlvaradoFernanda Andrade...
In 1 Cinema
As a kid, you probably loved that sugary icing on top and could eat it all by itself. But as an adult, you kind of want the whole cake because, well, it’s not cake without the actual cake. Lying and Stealing gives you the sugary icing of good-looking leads, a creepy villain, and expensive art, but where is the cake?
Lying and Stealing follows Ivan (Theo James), an art thief attempting to pay off his late father’s debt to the vicious Dimitri (Fred Melamed) and finally get out of the stealing game, or so he thinks. On one of his jobs, Ivan meets aspiring actress and sneaky con artist Elyse (Emily Ratajkowski) and the two become more than just professional allies. However, matters get complicated on Ivan’s last ever job as he catches the eye of an FBI Agent (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), and has Dimitri doubting his loyalty. Ivan has to pull off a plan to get rid of Dimitri and not go to jail for theft (among other things), but is it possible?
The plot isn’t exactly new, but films about cons are usually entertaining for the creativity employed in the execution of the scams themselves. There isn’t much of that in Lying and Stealing. Instead, the film breezes through the cons as well as the character drama happening around them.
There is more than one subplot in Lying and Stealing; from Ivan’s relationship with his bipolar, older brother to Elyse’s troubles with a harassing producer, but, just like everything else in the film, they are merely unfinished lingering thoughts that add time, not depth nor character.
For the acting, Theo James didn’t have nearly as much charisma needed to play such a role, especially with the film relying heavily on its stars to carry the weight. Yes, James looks good in a tailored suit, but what else does he offer in his performance in the film? Little else. James’s performance is cold and aloof which has audiences barely caring about his character, except for a couple of rare moments where he fumbles, making him seem human. Emily Ratajkowski was no different with her performance, mainly focusing on strutting around in sexy dresses rather than adding any character or depth to her role. Fred Melamed was outstanding, making the audience’s skin crawl merely with his looks and employing facial expressions that speak volumes. You will hate seeing Melamed on screen, but only because he is such a convincing sleazy creep of a villain. Isiah Whitlock Jr.’s performance was different from your standard FBI agent in such scenarios, and even though, on paper, the performance shouldn’t work, it somehow does, adding subtle humour to the film.
Lying and Stealing relies on its leading character’s good looks to carry a mediocre film, but the gamble does not pay off.