Towards the end of the film, the protagonist reveals that “you always write to someone.” This is not only relevant to the overall plot of the movie but it also seems to be a declaration of intent for the film itself, a product written to those who relate to the core message of the film of not hiding who you are and who you love. As the title suggests, Lie With Me is a film that interrogates its characters, and its audience, on what it takes to live a truthful life and the courage that this entails.
Lie With Me opens in France with renowned author Stéphane Belcourt (Guillaume de Tonquédec) going back to his hometown, Cognac, as he has agreed to promote the famous distillery as an ambassador for the brand’s anniversary. This is the first time Belcourt, now living in Paris, comes back to his hometown after 35 years. As the film goes on, we see what happened all those years ago, before he left Cognac for good, as a young Stéphane Belcourt (Jérémy Gillet) starts a closeted relationship and falls in love with Lucas Andrieu (Victor Belmondo). In the present timeline, Belcourt encounters the son of his first love, Thomas Andrieu (Julien De Saint Jean) and, thus, gets to revisit past feelings.
Visually, Lie With Me is a very captivating film. Some of the shots are very impressive and beautiful to look at, with striking lighting choices that really stand out and heighten the emotionality of some of the scenes. Similarly, the use of space in the film is particularly interesting as the director Olivier Peyon uses its setting as an integral part of the story. For example, the lake is a setting that keeps coming back during the film, making for some beautiful shots with the natural landscape as a visually stunning backdrop for some key scenes.
Narratively, Lie With Me also managed to keep things interesting as it constantly switches between the present timeline and the past one as both inform us about the characters and, particularly, Belcourt himself who is the only character present in both the current and past timeline. On the contrary, his first love Lucas is only known to the audience through what Belcourt and Thomas tell us of him and through Belcourt’s memories of him, showcased through the past scenes. I do wish, however, that there was more of a separation between the past scenes and the ones in the present, making it visually more clear which was which as the narrative constantly switches back and forth between the two.
The final speech is particularly impactful. The acting in this scene particularly stands out, as does the fact that some of the actors perform both in French and English but that is not solely the reason why Belcourt’s speech was for me the most memorable scene of the film. It is the words of the dialogue and the message to be truly and unapologetically oneself that makes it such an impactful moment in the film, one that Lie With Me had been leading up to all along: this is the most important moment of the film, its key message, and in my opinion also its best scene overall.
Peyon creates a film full of heart, one that feels both incredibly personal and wholly universal at the same time. In an array of films on a similar topic, however, Lie With Me is not nearly as memorable as I would have hoped it to be, its plot and characters remaining somewhat forgettable in the end. A well-made film nonetheless, Lie With Me is still enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing. Most impactful in its final scenes, the film is at its best when the character of Belcourt is thoroughly explored in all its complexities and layers and when the movie can truly touch the heart of its viewers.