Review of “The Four-Faced Liar”

Steeped in the hipster glow of Slamdance recognition (the ultimate in truly indie street cred), The Four-Faced Liar is a romantic comedy/drama for the gen Y crowd. Writer Marja Lewis Ryan adapted her own play for the screen, co-produced, and stars in the film, which features a lesbian romance at the center of its examination of 20-something relationships.

We begin with introductions all around. Trip (Todd Kubrak) is a cool, New Jersey-bred literature major that lives in a fabulously grungy New York City apartment with Bridget (Marja Lewis Ryan), an equally cool, womanizing lesbian with a real thing for Emily Bronte. In fact, we meet our heroine as she sits on a toilet, smoking a cigarette, a copy of Wuthering Heights in hand.

Along with Trip’s girlfriend Chloe (Liz Osborn), they meet a small town couple Greg (Daniel Carlise) and Molly (Emily Peck, a dead ringer for Scarlett Johansson) at their favorite local dive, The Four Faced Liar. Greg is a buttoned-up boy-next door type who’s followed Molly out to the big city. Molly’s an equally buttoned-up lit major, though she has a curious streak that comes into play very quickly.

Greg and Trip hit it off (sadly, in a totally heterosexual way) and become best buddies, bonding over videogames and sports and such. Molly and Bridget also get along well, forging a friendship over Wuthering Heights and study sessions that soon begin to drip with sexual tension.

Molly complains about how boring and predictable Greg is, all the while making hilariously transparent (to all but Molly) passes at Bridget. Meanwhile, Greg continues to be boring, and Trip alternates between being boyfriend of the year and ignoring poor Chloe.

Everything hits the fan when Molly and Bridget’s relationship starts to heat up (and Trip cheats on his way-too-good-for-him girlfriend), causing a massive rift among the friends. Dramatic twists and turns dominate the movie’s final third, which realistically does not end with everything wrapped up in a perfect little package. Life is messy, and so are Four-Faced Liar’s young protagonists.

While the push and pull between Trip and Chloe is well done (and provides some of the biggest laughs, like when Trip pulls out an impromptu ballet routine to apologize for missing a performance), the real substance of the story is in Bridget and Molly’s not-so-platonic friendship.

The pair go from casual friends (their first conversation entails Bridget naming her conquests after days of the week, while Molly stands by, nearly dumbfounded), to lovers over the span of a fall semester. It’s familiar territory for lesbian relationships in film (the curious straight woman and the experienced lesbian “player”), but it’s done well, with an honest tone.

The script is tight, and the drama feels raw and real, thanks to excellent performances from each lead and spot-on pacing.