Picking up a Canadian vidpic, telecast last January on CBC, CBS offers a drama addressing the issue of whether a child is telling the truth about her father abusing her or whether she’s lying because she’s angry at him. “Liar, Liar” makes its point, and if the outcome’s not entirely satisfactory, the telefilm has much to say about truth and buried anger.
Kelley Farrow (Vanessa King), 11, is part of a large family with a loving mom (Rosemary Dunsmore) and dad (Art Hindle), a younger sister and brother and a married sister, Chrissy (Janne Mortil). Outraged when her father spanks her, she tells adults that her father has sodomized her.
Nancy N.J. Isaak’s script, picking up both sides of the issue, cunningly casts doubts in both directions. Chrissy sustains a coolness towardher father that’s unexplained; on the other hand, Kelley heard of a similar abuse the day before she claims it happened to her, and she’s smitten by a young man she’s trying to impress.
Farrow seems a gentle, loving father who swears to his trusting wife that it’s all untrue. Kelley, egged on by an attorney and a counselor, takes her grievance to court. With the fat in the fire, both Farrow and daughter Kelley have to stick the course.
Under Jorge Montesi’s straightforward helming, “Liar” comes to life. King gives a perf that leaves the viewer uncertain about whether Kelley’s innocent or a refugee from “The Children’s Hour”; she’s a disturbing character, and Montesi’s incisive direction suggests there’s more to Vanessa than is told.
Hindle’s troubled Farrow and Dunsmore’s concerned mother are on target. Mortil’s worried Chrissy is a good study, and young Joel Palmer, in only briefly as the Farrow boy Patrick, is solid. Kate Nelligan’s fine as the Crown’s counsel , while Susan Hogan as Farrow’s sleek mouthpiece is OK.
Designer David Willson supplies believable backgrounds, and Fred Mollin’s score supplies solid support. Other tech credits are strong.