Director Rachel Taggart’s Lies is a 4 minute film that is hard to categorize at first. It begins on a cheery, sun-soaked afternoon as a mother, Anna (Jennifer Faulkner), goes about chatting to a friend over the phone. All the while, her daughter Navika (Vritika Gupta) gleefully collects the eggs from the family chickens. It’s an opening guaranteed to keep its audience guessing as to its true direction, with something feeling slightly off about this seemingly perfect setup. And its conclusion, however straightforward it may appear, is an epiphany that the vast majority of children and their parents will, at some point in their lives, be faced with.
Gupta does solid work as Navika, using what little time she has in the character’s shoes to sympathetic effect. Most importantly, she gives an honest performance that never feels out of tune with reality. The same can also be said for Faulkner’s Anna, whose kind and measured work helps balance Gupta’s energy. Together, the actresses unpack a handful of childhood lies that the viewer is more than likely familiar with.
The work put in behind the camera (Khemarintr Suwanchote) certainly manages to shine through as well, as the filmmakers skillfully navigate the innocent but touchy subject matter. Both adults and children are likely to identify with the story’s overarching theme, with the film using it as a bridge to help gain a deeper understanding of different perspectives.
A handful of issues do persist, though. The short’s atmosphere doesn’t exactly line up with its more holiday-oriented elements. And in keeping with this feeling of disconnect, there is a strange, almost completely muffled sequence that lasts for about a minute during the climax. It’s a confusing creative choice that takes away from the emotional impact but also fails to justify itself by the time the credits roll. But these odd hiccups do not detract from Lies‘ endearing message – and heartwarming material.