By Marissa Yelenik
Photo Credit: Netflix
Dangerous Lies was released on Netflix on April 20, 2020, as a Netflix Original Film. It was directed by Michael Scott, and is tagged as an ominous and suspenseful thriller movie on the site, with a running time of an hour and thirty seven minutes.
The movie follows the likeable and intelligent Katie Franklin, played by Camila Mendes, as she navigates her way through a life filled with mystery and struggle. The movie begins with Katie and her husband Adam Kettner, played by Jessie Usher, in a financially unstable position. Katie works as a caretaker to the rich and old Leonard Wellsley, played by Elliot Gould, while her husband remains unemployed. Katie and Leonard’s relationship is quickly defined as something more than caretaker and employer, the two care deeply for each other. Katie loves the man for his sweet and loving personality, and to Leonard, Katie begins to feel like the family he was never able to have.
Due to Katie’s financial problems, Leonard employs her husband and gives her a significant bonus in her paycheck, despite her protests. When the pair returns the next day, the old man has passed away, seemingly from natural causes, and the husband and wife find almost 100,000 dollars in cash stashed away. With no remaining family, Adam convinces Katie that Leonard would want her to have it, and they put it in a bank.
Throughout the film, there is a growing dissonance between the couple. As Adam insists that they should take everything he believes they deserve, no matter the cost, Katie does everything in her old friend’s memory. This brings up an important issue when it comes to poverty, marriage, and the strain that it can put on a loving couple. Due to her recent loss, Katie has become very impressionable, and Adam’s reckless decisions that are all done without consulting her makes her feel even worse. This is why when she is approached by an attorney claiming to have the will of old Leonard which leaves everything to her, she places full trust in this woman who has quickly become her only tie to the man she grew to love. Katie’s attorney, Julia, played by Jamie Chung, takes up a very supportive role, quickly becoming a voice that has significant influence in her life.
On Adams’ side, it seems as though the police are putting together a case, slowly but surely, that would implicate him in both a robbery that happened at his wife’s old workplace, which he stopped, and the death of Leonard. As everything happens, Adam grows more and more restless, and his actions quickly make the detective on his case, Katie, and the viewers feel as though not everything is as it seems. Instead of the supporting and loving husband that is seen in the beginning, he becomes a man corrupted by the power that he wishes to claim. The money left to his wife is, in his eyes, money he can use for any splurging he desires. What this movie lacks in actual mystery threads it makes up for in the struggle of comelife, and themes of poverty, and what money does to a person, along with the distrust that ensues.
Katie’s distrust of her husband does not come about naturally, it is a result of both the detective and Julia telling her that he cannot be trusted. She struggles with the idea, but Adam quickly does some things that make her think twice about what he is capable of. It seems as though the couple just can’t catch a break, and they are bombarded by every side. While Katie takes every hit personally, Adam is able to brush each aside.
In the climax of the film, many ends some together in explaining exactly what has happened over the course of the movie, and Katie is left with only one remaining hope. Her desperation comes pouring out, and the woman who was able to make it through so many breaks.
The end is not perfect. It is not anywhere near perfect. Many threads are left loose, many things are unexplained, but the focus of the movie shouldn’t be the mystery, or even the plot, as odd as that may sound. The true meaning of this film comes from every theme, and the feelings of Katie it is able to bounce back on any views watching. Adam is corrupted by greed, and is incessant about keeping the way of life he has, even if it costs him everything, and Katie is nowhere near perfect. Although clearly an intelligent woman, she is corrupted by fear and despair, becoming a shell of who she once was. It is not shown on the outside, but the very fact that she was able to believe her husband did what she thought showed just how much she had changed.
Katie’s corruption didn’t come as a result of the money, it was the impressionable state that her friend’s death left her in that made her change so much. The pain she felt made Julia the closest human connection to Leonard that she had, and as she was pushed into this new world with so much changing, especially Adam, she needed something from her old life to give her guidance. The only thing that had not changed was Julia, who was a new but familiar presence in her life. While her life of poverty was stressful, she knew how to navigate it. Her new life of death and wealth made everything new, and scary.
If the basic plot of this story is analyzed, it is not very good. However, the reason this film is worth watching is to view and experience Katie’s life, feel the stress of poverty, and the fear of change. It is the watching of each person become someone entirely new, to feel betrayal from unexpected places, and just understand where each character is coming from, that is worth watching.