starring Paul Franklin Dano, Billy Kay, Brian Cox, Bruce Altman
screenplay by Stephen M. Ryder and Michael Cuesta & Gerald Cuesta
directed by Michael Cuesta
by Walter Chaw A marriage of Harmony Korine and Larry Clark's bleak suburban sensibilities and Michael Mann's smooth visual sense, veteran commercial director Michael Cuesta's debut film L.I.E. ("Long Island Expressway") is a coming-of-age drama that includes a trio of knock-out performances, a gritty, wise screenplay, and directorial choices that are pitch perfect. It opens like Korine's Gummo, with a child on an overpass and a voice-over providing brief backstory and mood. Like Gummo, L.I.E. betrays itself as a subversive literary piece: Korine's work following the major tropes of John Keats's Ode to a Grecian Urn and Cuesta's film faithful to the philosophy and tone of Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Further, L.I.E. sets itself up as one of the most technically accomplished (and restrained) members of the dissident teen social genre, lending a direct thematic explication to the generational paranoia subtexts of 1970s cinema paid visual tribute by Korine/Clark and Todd Solondz.