An interview with Joshua Leonard about his new film, “The Lie”
December 9, 2011, 1:26 am
Filed under: Film, Literature | Tags: , , ,

The American fictional short story has been a consistent source of inspiration for filmmakers for decades and it is interesting to see how films adapted from short stories compare to films adapted from other forms of literature. In the mainstream movie canon, the novel provides a wide range of generic inspiration. Broad story arcs feed well into epic melodramas such as Gone With the Wind (1939) epic fantasies such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Character driven narratives in film are also well-facilitated by novels like The Godfather (1972), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), or even the Harry Potter  movies. And of course there are at least one billion more, but compare the nature of some of those films with the natures of movies adapted from short fiction. They cover just as expansive a spectrum of genre, but it makes sense that science fiction and horror stories make up the majority of the short story’s iterations in feature film.

Less common is the melodramatic short story adapted into a feature film such as “The Lie” a  T.C. Boyle short story recently adapted into a feature film by Joshua Leonard and this week’s feature on Citywide. Short stories often take place in self-contained situations that the reader inhabits along with a set of conditions created by the story’s particular plot or setting. The distilled nature of these works cause them often to read like parables, which is how Boyle’s original work plays out. The oral version of the story is told from the perspective of Lonnie who is frustrated by the yuppie lifestyle he sees has consumed him. In his desperation to find temporary release from his inflexible adult life, Lonnie excuses himself from his day job by uttering one of the most devastating lies imaginable. The reader then observes Lonnie attempting to hold everything together in a rapidly unravelling life.

Joshua Leonard attempts to take this comedic concept and fill it out into a feature length film. Listen to the interview to hear him discuss the decisions he had to make in order to do so.

Here it is-


Here is the trailer for the movie-

Here is where you can read it on the New Yorker’s website

And here is where Stephen Colbert will read it out loud for you instead-


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