Saturday, March 11, 2017

153. Liar's Moon

153. Liar’s Moon (1982)
Director: David Fisher
Writers: David Fisher from a story by Janice Thompson and Billy Hanna
From: Cult Cinema

A rich girl and a poor boy pursue a relationship over the objections of their parents, although a secret from their parents’ past may be the final doom for the couple.

The movie opens with no title card and a car driving down a road in not-quite black & white footage, not-quite sepia tone, and it’s clear we’re going to feel each and every one of these 105 minutes. A young woman goes into a doctor’s office carrying her baby and convinces her nurse friend to do something, but exactly what is kept a secret from the audience. We cut to 18 years later as Matt Dillon is working on his dad’s oil equipment. This is Jack.

Jack’s two friends show up and convince him to compete in the hog-catching contest at the fair that evening. Meanwhile, rich-girl Ginny is preparing for her Yale boyfriend to take her to the fair. Things go as you’d expect: Jack ends up soiling Ginny’s dress during the hog contest, similar missteps happen later, but he ends up finally making a good impression and she invites him over to dinner with her family.

When Ginny’s dad meets Jack, he calls Jack’s mother and tells her they need to work to stop this. No reason given and the movie plods along until Jack’s dad dies when a bunch of pipes fall on him. And honestly, to hell with this plot. The whole movie is yadda-yadda.

Parents conspire against the kids, kids figure it out, decide to elope at the 45-minute mark because their relationship isn’t what the movie’s about. They go to Louisiana because the fact that she’s 17 isn’t a legal barrier there. Gross, movie.

She gets pregnant, doctor calls Texas to check with her old doctor, learns that Ginny and Jack have the same father—Jack’s mom had an affair with Ginny’s dad and that’s where Jack came from. That’s why they were opposed to the relationship.

None of this, by the way, is revealed by the parents or their portrayal. Jack’s mom barely gets screentime. The thing driving the plot is a conspiracy between to characters who never speak to each other on screen. Well done, movie.

To be fair, this does lead to the funniest line in the movie, “In Louisiana, only a few things are illegal, but incest is certainly one of them.” It’s not supposed to be funny, but it’s hilarious.

In fact, the final act of the film descends into unintentional hilarity. The doctor says he’s legally obligated to abort the baby. Ginny leaves to talk to her prostitute neighbor to seek help getting sterilized so she can stay married to Jack because the important thing is that she get to keep screwing her brother. No, movie. No.

While she’s leaving to do that, the doctor gets an update from Texas that the couple aren’t actually related, that Jack’s mother had the records changed out of spite because Ginny’s dad dumped her. It’s too late, though, because Ginny is already getting surgery from the backwoods doctor. Jack finds her, surgery has gone wrong, rushes her to a hospital where she dies. All due to his mother’s pettiness. THE END.

What can I say except, “Ewwwww.” This movie’s gross, y’all.

Let’s put the incest plotline aside (and add that to the list of “phrases you never thought you’d read”), the movie’s politics are really gross. All the tragedy stems from women trying to have control over their own lives. At the root is Jack’s mom who goes to great lengths to have the records changed to say that Jack isn’t his father’s son. All because a relationship didn’t work out. Then you have Ginny, who’s underaged, and has been accepted to college in the north. She throws her future and comfortable life away because Jack wants to screw her, and she’s happy to do so. She even goes under the knife to make sure he can safely have sex with her rather than end the relationship. Because she does that, she dies.

Lest you think I’m over-reaching by saying the film has an anti-choice perspective, when Jack is trying to find Ginny, the prostitute tells him, “what she does with her body is her business.” Of course, the line is unintentionally ironic since Ginny’s doing this specifically so Jack can use her body as he wishes.

So in the end, the movie is about a bitter woman who wants to screw over an ex. This costs a girl her life, but that’s what happens when you try to take control of your own body. Ultimately, Jack is the victim as he condemns the parents with righteous scorn over having lost his rightful fuck toy.

What a garbage film. Even if you cut my gender-focused reading, it’s still garbage. The conflict hinges on a secret that’s never explored in the film. The parents are supposed to be working in tandem to undermine the relationship, but they don’t ever talk or scheme together on screen. If the movie’s about acts from the past impacting the present, why don’t we get anything about that past? Plus the movie’s really comfortable with incest. Yes, it turns out it’s fake-out incest, but the characters don’t know that so the movie’s taking the line of love conquers all, even sibling-screwing.

Surprisingly, it’s not a recommend. On top of everything else, it’s boring. It’s so boring. Here’s a curious thing, though. I just did a search to see if there are any copies online (of course there are) and immediately found one with both a title card and an alternate ending! There’s a version of the film where Ginny lives! That doesn’t mitigate any of the problems I have with the film, but it does suggest even the filmmakers didn’t know what they were making. What a pile.

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