Top 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2001 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Dramatic Competition


Brian Cox, Paul Franklin Dano, Billy Kay, Bruce Altman

Non-Cast Credits

Michael Cuesta, Linda Moran, Rene Bastian, Michael Cuesta, Stephen M. Ryder, Gerald Cuesta, Romeo Tirone, Eric Carlson, Kane Platt, Pierre Foldes


L.I.E. takes us to a place where the American Dream thrives in nice homes on tree-lined streets. The Long Island Expressway is the great paved conduit that leads to the squeaky clean suburbs of New York against which director Michael Cuesa sets his film. Inevitably, there are cracks in the surface for, in a community set apart from the fray, an underbelly is inevitable. L.I.E. is a study of that festering reality.

Fifteen-year-old Howie, whose mother has just died, must navigate his adolescence virtually unsupervised. His father, a corrupt building contractor, can barely keep tabs on his young girlfriend, let alone on Howie. The only adult giving Howie any attention at all is Big John, a local man who is a respected pillar of the community. But we soon discover that Big John has secrets of his own.

With a wonderfully complex screenplay that is both troubling and riveting, L.I.E. is full of contradictions that move between sympathy and revulsion. Cuesta projects an eerie complacency to tough subjects, and obtains top-notch performances, including that of Paul Franklin Dano as Howie, who is at once vulnerable and searching, flirting with adulthoods yet in that dangerous place where a step in any direction could change his life forever. Brian Cox as Big John is a fascinating mass of deception and suppressed guilt that lurks behind a charming smile and reassuring hand to the shoulder. There will be no heads left buried in the sand, even quant Long Island.


John Cooper (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.