The Shadow of a Lie by Bouli Lanners: love, quite simply

The shadow of a lie is a film completely different from the one that filmmaker Bouli Lanners has accustomed us to. self-qualified as The public, the film, of great formal beauty, analyzes on the basis of a love story, the narrow customs of a Gaelic society constrained by religious practices from another age from which members are eager to flee.

Synopsis of the shadow of a lie : Phil went into exile in a small Presbyterian community on the Isle of Lewis in northern Scotland. One night he has a stroke that causes him to lose his memory. Back on the island, he finds Millie, a woman from the community who takes care of him. While searching for her memories, she claims that they secretly loved each other before her accident …


The name Bouli Lanners is rarely associated with romance. But with The shadow of a lie, he realizes, this is the second time we almost follow each other that we see him in a role full of tenderness, after It is love by Claire Burger, of which he is the protagonist of a great tough man with such a big heart.

Once we understand that Lanners hesitated for a long time between thriller and romance, we understand the general economics of the film. Take effect, The shadow of a lie is even as covered by the shadow of a great mystery. The deaf film with unspoken, truths ready to burst, like a thriller. But what needs to be remembered is ultimately the study of the customs of a micro-community in the Outer Hebrides, off the coast of north-west Scotland. Phil (Bouli Lanners, himself a Philippe in life, even an absolute fan of these Scottish regions, whom he knows as his own trouser pocket), is a Belgian stranded on a farm belonging to Angus (Julian Glover), an old-fashioned patriarch, imbued with of the Holy Scriptures, a farm where the son Peter (Cal MacAninch), the grandson Brian (Andrew Still), and thus the foreigner Phil, work. Brian begins the film with playful talk, ignored by a silent, distant and cold father, but to whom Phil responds just as cheerfully. The McPherson family is the image of an entire country where women still wear hats and long black coats to attend worship: tight, puritanical, not to say cautious.

As the family gathers in the Presbyterian church for a service to the sermon from another age, the evil Phil collapses on the moor after a stroke. Narrowly evacuated to Inverness, he came from the hospital without sequelae, but with less memory. Millie (impressive Michelle Fairley), Peter’s sister, has been appointed, has appointed herself as the patient’s referee. She helps him with shopping, with going to work (he is not allowed to drive), with interpreting the traces of a past life that he knows nothing about, found on the phone or on the door of a refrigerator. It’s not a spoiler for the movie to reveal that she will very quickly inform Phil that they were (are) boyfriends. Is it a lie or the truth? Clues, the trailer, for the film’s title, shows that Millie has rather used this amnesia to initiate an unexpected love affair with this fifty-year-old who has his own pretty decent job but who still eats at the patriarch’s table, like the rest of the family, and still sleeps under his roof. Michelle Fairley, all inwardly, interprets with great accuracy the transformation of a dry and lifeless woman into a happy, luminous lover, even though she still has to hide from her family.. Bouli Lanners are similar, a bit awkward in carrying a character who is also very loving.

Such scenes could quickly turn into a fantastic tear-soaked melodrama, if not for the staging of Lanners and his friend Tim Mielants who came to help him.. We forget the relative thinness of the scenario in the contemplation of the magnificent solid images of the landscapes of the Hebrides : The moors, the peat bogs, the beach, the beaches, Bouli Lanners the lifelong painter, masters the grammar perfectly. The grandeur and beauty of nature is sublimated in an impeccable, harmonious, picturesque CinemaScope. The small dialogue makes room for the elements. The visual metaphors are numerous, like those first moments together, or more precisely this first separation, where Millie, already outside, always quickly returns to her false normality for fear of what will be said, and Phil, inside his dwelling , is separated by an excellent set of flickering windows that blur the image of each other …

The shadow of a liewhere not one but several lies allow love to be born is a film that we loved despite its few slag, its few shortcuts. When the intertwining of fingers so intensely and at the same time so modestly expresses the love and above all the desire that everyone around you rejects, you can only get carried away by the main characters.. We can only stick to the film by a filmmaker, by a man whose humanism we know he has long hidden under layers of bravado, and who in broad daylight is discovered a little more at a time. A simple and beautiful film that ultimately goes back to the basics.

Shadow of a Lie – Trailer

Also see

Shadow of a Lie – Datasheet

Original Title: Nobody Has To Know
Instructor: Bouli Lanners & Tim Mielants
Manuscript: Bouli Lanners & Stéphane Malandrin
Cast: Michelle Fairley (Millie MacPherson), Bouli Lanners (Philippe Haubin), Andrew Still (Brian), Julian Glover (Angus), Cal MacAninch (Peter), Ainsley Jordan (Beverly), Clovis Cornillac (Benoît)
Photo: Franck Van den Eeden
Editing: Ewyn Ryckaert
Producers: Jacques-Henri Bronckart, Co-producers: Ciara Barry, Sébastien Beffa, Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, Rosie Crerar, Antonino Lombardo, François Yon
Production companies: Versus Production, Co-production: Barry Crerar, Playtime, Prime Time, Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF), Proximus, BE TV
Distribution (France): Ad Vitam Distribution
Awards: Best Actress, Best Actress, Best Picture at Chicago Film Festival 2021
Duration: 99 min.
Genre: Drama
Release Date: March 23, 2022
France – Belgium – UK – 2021

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