Proving there’s life beyond “90210,” Jenny Garth tackles the tough role of a young bride who, after suffering years of abuse at the hands of her older husband, Bruce (Gregory Harrison), snaps and encourages her teenage friends to murder him. Based on a true story, “Lies” occasionally suffers from low production qualities, but the horrific tales of abuse and the sordid mess that was her marriage are transmitted with great emotional depth.
The telepic starts with Laurie awaiting trial and looking back at the events, aided by an occasional narration. Each prison scene begins in slo-mo with a blue , grainy screen adding to the character looking back in wonderment at how her life has turned out.
The story, spanning 10 years, begins with 16-year-old Laurie meeting Bruce in a bar, and as their relationship develops, so does Bruce’s obsession with younger women (it is hinted that he was playing more than hide-and-seek with some of the neighborhood kids that Laurie baby-sat).
It is well established early on that Laurie is a sympathetic character who is naive about life, is devoted to her husband and will stop at nothing to please him.
He takes terrifying advantage of this; Bruce seems nice but his abusive interior begins to surface little by little until he becomes a monster: beating her, abusing her mentally, and threatening to kill her and their children. The changes in his psyche are realistically developed over a period of time.
Garth does well with the role, suffering only in the far-from-believable, hasty scenes where she is interviewed by reporters on the way to court. Garth is good at the initial teenage innocence required for the role, but there is very little change in her appearance over a period of 10 years. Surely someone in makeup could have helped.
Acting in the main roles is fine, but some of the courtroom players leave much to be desired.
Telepic flows nicely. The producers, editor Cari Coughlin and director Michael Uno, put together a sequence of events which change dates so often that it could have gotten messy and hard to follow, but that’s not the case.
While one-sided, Judith Paige Mitchell’s script leaves viewers with absolutely no sympathy for the dead husband. The fact that he is deceased seems irrelevant compared to the abuse that Laurie endured — an important angle for the piece to succeed.
“Lies” carries a warning — as it should — that the abuse portrayed is shocking, not always from the visually graphic, but from what is hinted at and described.