Liar premieres September 27, 10pm on SundanceTV.
Liar has the potential to be something more than it actually is, but its actors and plot ultimately cave under the weight of it trying to both be and do too much. The two leads, Ioan Gruffudd and Joanne Froggatt, do a good job of playing two opposing sides of perception of a date gone wrong that slowly begins to spiral out of control as more and more people become involved, but they appear to be held back at certain points by stunted dialogue and meandering scenes in which they are given little direction or freedom to create beyond what is in the script. To be completely honest, something about this six-episode thriller bothered me. I could never quite place my finger on what exactly it was and even as I write this, it escapes me, but I know that there was something amiss about this show. It never felt fully realized in my opinion. As stated earlier, the potential for something that merited discussion or recommendations to others is there, but Liar always felt like an interesting concept that never fully got off of the ground.
Avoiding spoilers, Liar attempts in its short timeframe to provide the viewer with a feeling that they are the detective trying to piece together what really happened that night on Laura and Andrew’s date. Was there actually a rape that took place? Planted evidence? Foul play? There are so many moments that leave you puzzled or trying to rationalize whether or not this or that person could’ve set up Andrew as a rapist or messed with Laura’s mental state enough to push her to thinking it was him and in the end the revelation can be best summed up in the reaction, “Huh. Well, can’t say that surprised me.” And in that statement maybe I’m answering the thing I could never pinpoint, that it was a story that I’ve felt like has been regurgitated on screen several times over to the point where this particular iteration just feels like a similar dish only slightly warmed over.
The downside is that Liar did feature some bright spots mixed within a fairly bland product. As mentioned before, Gruffudd and Froggatt do a decent job of trying to elevate their characters from the classic pitfalls of poorly written characters attempting to prove they’re not the one at fault. They manage well for the most part.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I fully recognize that I have blinders for Gruffudd because I thoroughly enjoy him as an actor and still lament for the prematurely cancelled Forever. R.I.P.)
The other major standout moment came in the show’s first episode where there is an excellent sequence of editing that seamlessly cuts back and forth from the date night in question, Laura’s account, Andrew’s account and what actually happened. The camerawork and forethought on the editing sequence was something that immediately caught my attention, but with that should also come a warning sign because if I, the reviewer, am digging at the bottom of the barrell trying to push how well a show looked and not the actual content what does that tell you? Nevertheless, Liar has moments of genuine uncertainty which can occasionally surprise you, but those moments are short-lived and falter under the rest of the story that is nothing more than a rehashed story. I would not recommend it, but if you were curious enough to set aside time to view it in its entirety I believe that you would not be left with ‘Binger’s Remorse’ (trademark pending). There have been far worse shows out there.
I give Liar a C-.