Movies About Deception

Movies About Deception – The Little Shadows Of Big Lies

Assuming that cinema is a work of art and, therefore, an invention, every movie ever existed is a highly elaborate lie and deception aimed at fooling the spectator.

Of course, we all know what we see on the screen does not exist; they are only emotional experiences never meant to be a documentary account of reality.

Indeed, behind each of these cinematic lies, there is always a professional team taking care of the technique (photography, editing, and whatever else) of everything to create the so-called suspension of disbelief.

The latter is nothing more than an audience’s ability to accept as plausible what they see on the screen, although it may be outside their direct experience or knowledge.

While we usually get very pissed off when we are fooled in real life, at the theater, we more than willingly accept the hoax and applaud the director’s skill in keeping us as good as babies to whom mommy is reading a fairy tale before naptime.

In this way, we recognize good movies from the crap when we feel the time we invested in these experiences was not thrown to the wind; instead, it left us with something within us that was not there before.

Is that being said, which movies manage to create this little magic? Let us look at some of them from the 1980s to more recently.

F/X (1986)

F/X 1986 movie
Amazon Prime Video

Who could be a better protagonist in today’s first movie than a special effects expert working for the great deception of moviemaking?

Unfortunately, he gets into trouble precisely because of his skill when the FBI hires him to fake the murder of a crucial federal witness in a special protection program.

Although he is not very interested in this job, well outside his standards, he eventually accepts just to do a favor for an old friend.

The operation works out perfectly, except that his employers turn out to be corrupt agents and use the opportunity to bring the witness out into the open and kill him.

To make matters worse, the effects man must also flee from the police because these feds artfully plant evidence to frame him for the murder.

At that point, the man has no choice but to find out who the real instigators behind this plot are, using all his experience with movie tricks to fool, in turn, those who have deceived him.

For likable actor Bryan Brown, this is one of the few occasions he has a leading role, redeeming a career of secondary characters, albeit even in excellent movies such as Gorillas in the Mist or Two Hands.

It’s fun to watch this little hero fight mobsters and feds like a strange MacGyver, fooling his enemies with those little movie tricks of ingenuity and simplicity.

Equally underrated is Brian Dennehy, a well-known sneering villain in Rambo or Indio, here playing instead virtually the only honest cop in the entire United States.

It is fun for the audience to admire the payback of these two not-so-famous actors in a story that may not be too original, yet where emerges the sheer beauty of the special effects deception at the heart of every movie.

Quiz Show (1994)

Quiz Show 1994 movie
Amazon Prime Video

From the previous 80s action/thriller, we now move to a tragicomical biopic about the true story of one of the most scandalous deceptions on American television.

It is the 1950s, and the most watched program in every household is Twenty-One, a quiz show in which contestants answered general knowledge questions to win cash prizes.

The most famous contestant is Charles Van Doren, an intelligent young college professor who becomes a celebrity after repeatedly winning this game.

Everything gets messy when one of his fierce rivals, Herb Stempel, claims that the answers to the questions Charles had given were provided to him and other contestants by program staff to boost ratings.

Feeling betrayed by the program, Stempel publicly denounces the fraud amid the astonishment and disbelief of the American public.

The network’s top executives obviously try to downplay the scandal, yet soon dump Van Doren, who remains on his own trying to uphold his reputation and integrity.

Directing this comic/dramatic biopic is the great Robert Redford, with a solid classic style and a narrative shattered into several flashbacks (fortunately without becoming too clunky) that perfectly portrays the ambition, ethics, and power of the media world.

Absolutely extraordinary are the two main leads, beginning with Ralph Fiennes as Charles Van Doren.

The actor deserves an Oscar nomination for playing a human-sized character, as morally ambiguous as he is psychologically vulnerable.

Against this dashing professor goes the neurotic and irrepressible John Turturro, turning all the frustration and anger of this man who feels betrayed by everyone into an absurd comedy.

In short, this is a little memo to the obsession in today’s social world, which is as fake (if not more so) as yesterday’s television world.

Impostor (2001)

Impostor 2001 movie
Amazon Prime Video

Continuing to hop like a grasshopper in spring from one movie genre to another, let us now talk about a sci-fi story of deception arising from the pen of none other than Philip K. Dick, author among his other masterpieces of the legendary Blade Runner.

In keeping with tradition for this author, the plot takes place in a dystopian future where Earth is at war with an alien race known as the Scavs.

A war that not only the Scavs fights on battlefields but also through human replicants who infiltrate society and organize terrible acts of terrorism.

Besides the fear of this threat, this new strategy also triggers paranoia among citizens and the military in a general environment of mutual suspicion and distrust.

After a spaceship crashes on the edge of town, the protagonist of this story, Spencer Olham, everyone accuses him of being a replicant.

Despite being a respected engineer developing weapons against the alien threat, the authorities arrest and try to brutally make him confess where the next attack will take place.

At that point, the man has no choice but to flee and try to prove his innocence while at the same time becoming a wanted man of the highest order.

At the helm of this little B-movie is the honest Gary Fleder, a little-known but respectable director of such good movies as Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead and Runaway Jury.

The protagonist on the run is Gary Sinise, a familiar face to fans of CSI New York and unable to sit still for more than ten minutes before escaping from cop Vincent D’Onofrio, famed Gomer Pyle of Full Metal Jacket.

In short, we have lots of action, a great plot, and good special effects for such a low-budget movie. Need anything else?

The Wife (2017)

The Wife 2017 movie
Amazon Prime Video

Once again, we totally change movie kind, watching the deceptions behind a delicate and dramatic family and artistic epic.

It all begins when a famous writer receives a call from a friend in the middle of the night announcing he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Filled with joy, the man travels with his wife to Stockholm to attend the ceremony and collect the coveted worldwide rewards for his works.

During the plane flight and the night in the hotel, we discover through his wife’s memories that she is actually the literary genius in the family.

Carrying on this charade because publishers once could not stand female writers, she has now reached the limit of her endurance of a lying, incompetent, and unfaithful husband.

Luckily, however, her young son and a very meddlesome journalist will step in to help her escape that life of lies and deceit once and for all.

Swedish director Björn Runge paints an intimate portrait of everyday resignation about a woman’s life at a fork in the road with no return, yet one she cannot avoid taking.

Jane Anderson adapts Meg Wolitzer‘s novel of the same name to a cinematic pace, maintaining a solid critique of sexism in the publishing world.

Extraordinary is the performance of Glenn Close, a wife and mother unwilling to upset her family’s precarious balance but unable to keep silent about her understandable desire for personal fulfillment.

No less excellent is the excellent Jonathan Pryce as the slimy and insufferable husband, a leech who takes advantage of the talent and kindness of a woman he does not deserve.

We, therefore, have a lot of deception and betrayal, and as the old Corleone Godfather used to say, remember that anyone who goes against the Family never makes a good deal.

The Favourite (2018)

The Favourite 2018 movie
Amazon Prime Video

As always, I want to end on a high note with a movie by Yorgos Lanthimos, a quirky and original Greek director with unique and provocative stories distinguished for years.

His cinema explores universal themes through different genres but a surreal and always disturbing lens, like this costume drama at the dawn of the 18th century.

In the royal court of England, Queen Anne is a sick and insecure woman who relies entirely on her friend and adviser, Lady Sarah Churchill, to rule the country and distribute favors and punishments among her people.

However, the situation changes when Abigail Masham, a young woman who had once been a noblewoman, comes to the court looking for work.

Abigail begins as a humble maid but soon decides to undertake a strategy to oust Lady Sarah from her unassailable position as the queen’s favorite.

Her rise to power sets in motion a series of personal and political deceptions and maneuvers, culminating in the conclusion of this movie that will be tragic and unhappy for virtually all the characters.

Lanthimos shuffles with perverse delight the shadows behind the dazzling lights of the royal court’s glitz and elegance, where the heart of the real power of politics is stirred.

Nothing better than having two gorgeous leading ladies, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, perpetually struggling to impose their identities through brazen sexuality and far more subtle psychological cleverness.

They both plot plots in the shadows to curry favor with the whimsical Queen Olivia Colman, a suffering and arrogant performance at the same time.

Quite simply, this is the best historical movie in recent years, where the perpetual deception of politics must surrender to the most miserable and vulgar of human nature’s impulses.

As always, I hope you have enjoyed today’s movie recommendations since I have really tried to include every genre for every need of you moviegoers.

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