LIAR. (2017/2020) A TERRIFIC NETFLIX THRILLER SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

LIAR. (2017 AND 2020) A NETFLIX THRILLER SERIES CREATED BY HARRY WILLIAMS AND JACK WILLIAMS. CO-PRODUCED BY ITV AND SUNDANCE TV.
STARRING JOANNE FROGGATT AND IOAN GRUFFUDD.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

It feels like I’ve been watching this thriller series for weeks and weeks and weeks, because it actually has two seasons of six episodes each, one of which aired in 2017 and one in 2020. It’s bloody brilliant, though, so I don’t at all begrudge the time spent viewing it, and I haven’t even finished it; I still have one tension-filled episode left to go!

Joanne Froggatt and Ioan Gruffudd are phenomenal as the two leads, Laura Nielson and Andrew Earlham respectively. You will recognise the marvellous Joanne Froggatt from such roles as that of Zoe Tattersall in CORONATION STREET from 1997-1998, in which she played the troubled teenaged mother of Baby Katie, whom childless couple Judy and Gary Mallett wanted to adopt but it all went tragically pear-shaped.

She was also terrific as Myra Hindley’s sister, Maureen Smith, in the 2006 ITV mini-series, SEE NO EVIL: THE MOORS MURDERS. Maureen Hindley, married to David Smith at a young age, had no idea what her older sister Myra was up to with her twisted and sadistic lover and co-worker, Ian Brady, and it ruined her life when it all came out, as it destroyed the lives of so many other people affected by the murderous actions of Brady and Hindley.

Ioan Gruffudd (I have no idea how to pronounce his name, be it Owen, Ewan, Ian or whatever else!) has apparently been in a load of things, but I mainly remember him from James Cameron’s blockbuster movie, TITANIC, from 1997. He was the officer who came back to see if there were any survivors left after the massive ship had sunk, shouting, ‘Is there anybody alive out there…?’ while someone else pheep-pheeps on a tiny whistle, lol.

In fact, his shouting provided the stimulus for that selfish wagon Rose Dawson to shove poor old frozen Leonardo DiCaprio off that door to which they were both clinging for life and into the icy ocean so that she and she alone could be saved, the self-centred mare. Have you ever seen a frozen woman move so fast? No? I rest my case…

Anyway, Joanne Froggatt plays Laura Nielson, an attractive and outgoing secondary school teacher who, one fateful night, goes on a date with surgeon Andrew Earlham (played by Unpronounceable Gruffudd), the father of one of her pupils, Luke.

Andrew is handsome, charming, witty and widowed, and doesn’t look a day older than when he was hanging out of the rescue boat yelling, are any a’ youse rich bastards still alive out there, or words to that effect. Laura certainly can’t resist his not inconsiderable charms. She invites him in to her charming little seafront house for a nightcap, while he supposedly waits for a taxi…

When Laura wakes up the next morning, she gets the distinct impression that she’s been, well, drugged and raped. Drug-raped. By Andrew Earlham, the handsome, widowed surgeon who’s supposedly just looking to dip his big toe back in the dating pool again, as it were.

Laura is extremely vocal and loses no time in reporting what she sees as a heinous crime. Andrew, of course, denies all culpability. Oh, we had all the sex all right, but it was wholly consensual, he bleats hopefully. Well, you can’t consent to what you don’t know is happening, can you…?

Laura will spend the whole series trying to prove, not only that Andrew Earlham drug-raped her, but also that he has done it to other women before and certainly will again if he gets the chance. Laura becomes a thorn in Andrew’s side like he has never known before and probably won’t again. Who will come out on top…?

It’s like a soaps reunion here at times, which is great fun. Jill Halfpenny, who once played Martin Platt’s secret mistress while he was married to Gail in CORONATION STREET, is cast here as the gay soldier-slash-wife of the woman in charge of Laura’s rape case.

Katherine Kelly, who played mouthy Becky McDonald in CORONATION STREET from 2006 to 2012, portrays a tough and not very likeable cop in the second season of LIAR, but I can’t tell you what criminal case she’s in charge of because that would be a massive spoiler, and I don’t do massive spoilers. Only little to middly ones, lol.

Amy Nuttall, aka Chloe Atkinson in EMMERDALE, plays another possible victim of Andrew Earlham’s, and Lucy Speed, whose character Natalie was married to Barry Evans in EASTENDERS back in the day, here plays a counsellor to Andrew Earlham’s messed-up son, Luke. Told you it was like a soaps reunion here…!

The show gets very confusing at times, especially in the second season as it becomes a tense and fast-moving whodunnit. And the ease with which the characters apparently break in and out of each other’s cars, houses and work lockers and hack in and out of each other’s laptops and mobile phones is just plain ridiculous, but we can overlook all this in favour of the show’s stronger points, such as the superb characterisation of the two leads.

Laura seems incapable of giving up, or of keeping her mouth shut where she perceives she’s being given the shaft, whereas Andrew’s deviousness and his ability to gaslight, deceive and manipulate people just seems to know no bounds. It’s extremely interesting, therefore, to watch the cracks appear in his previously cool, calm and collected façade.

I hope to finish LIAR tonight before my son comes to hog the telly for the Europa League footy final (Frankfurt vs. Rangers, I’m reliably informed), but I can already advise you to watch this excellent Netflix series if you want a nice long escape from your own problems.

You’ll have to hold on tight, as the twists and turns become almost too twisty-turny to keep up with, but you’ll also have great craic playing spot-the-soap-star and marvelling at Laura’s persistence (past the point of all wisdom, mind!) and Andrew’s utter villainy. Happy watching…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv

THE CRUSH. (1993) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE CRUSH. (1993) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ALAN SHAPIRO. STARRING CARY ELWES, KURTWOOD SMITH, GWYNYTH WALSH, JENNIFER RUBIN AND ALICIA SILVERSTONE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

It’s a bit disturbing to read that the writer and director of this ‘90s erotic thriller based his movie on a real-life experience of his own with a girl who later sued him for using her real name in the film. One wonders what the ‘woke’ battalion and the #metoo movement would make of it all.

Cary Elwes’s character in the film, a journalist called Nick Eliot, finds himself in a whole heap of trouble when he rents a rich couple’s guest-house and falls afoul of their beautiful young teenage daughter, as prime a piece of jail-bait as Nick has ever seen. Her name is Adrian Forrester, although she’d be better named Lolita…

I hope I’m not doing Alicia Silverstone (known for starring in CLUELESS, and in those three famous Aerosmith music videos from the early ‘90s, CRYIN’, AMAZING and CRAZY), who plays the fourteen-year-old Adrian, any disservice here by saying that she’s perfect for this role, her movie debut. Sexually precocious, flirtatious, seductive, fully aware of the effect she has on men and determined to get what she wants, by fair means or foul.

Nick is undeniably attracted to the gorgeous teenager, who’s apparently a child prodigy in various subjects as well as a smouldering Bardot-esque-type beauty. She reads WUTHERING HEIGHTS and Jane Austen, by choice, she’s a mini-Mozart on the ivories, she’s a keen entomologist, that is, an expert on insects, and a champion horse-rider and a talented writer to boot. Talk about the girl who has it all…! Just think about what she could achieve if she got her mind off men for a minute…

 Adrian makes it clear from the start that she’s smitten with the handsome twenty-eight-year-old reporter, and Nick is flattered, not altogether surprisingly. It’s not until the pair actually kiss, on the night of her parents’ party, that the scales seem to fall from Nick’s eyes and he finally realises what trouble he could be in if he pursues a sexual relationship with Adrian. Beautiful and sexually aware she may be, but she’s still only a child, and the adult in the situation must be the one to do the right thing.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, however, and Adrian turns extremely nasty when Nick tells her they can’t be together the way she wants. He’ll always be her friend, though, he promises her, and she can always count on him to be there for her if she needs him. One wonders if he would be so free with his avowals of undying friendship if she’d been acne-scarred and wearing braces on her teeth…

It’s not Nick’s friendship that Adrian wants, however. Now that she’s been rejected, everything of value in Nick’s life is under severe threat. His glittering new career at PIQUE magazine, his difficult boss’s high opinion of him, his (adult!) girlfriend Amy, a photographer from the same magazine, his beloved vintage car, which he’s lovingly restoring, and his own good reputation as a man who doesn’t rape and beat little girls. Yeah, things get really black there for Nick for a while. Will he ever see the light at the end of the tunnel again…?

It’s a bit far-fetched that Adrian manages to do all the things she does in the film without anyone suspecting her. She’s only a teenage girl, after all, and not Superman, but it’s an entertaining and gripping film, so we can probably excuse a few- well, a whole truckload of- loopholes.

The two leads are extremely good-looking, as I’m sure they both know (Carey Elwes is known for his roles in THE PRINCESS BRIDE and the SAW franchise), and the premise of the film is infinitely believable. Just look at FATAL ATTRACTION, SWIMFAN or PLAY MISTY FOR ME,  each of which have similar themes of rejection and a terrible revenge for same.

There’s a lotta trouble out there a guy can get himself into, if he messes with the feelings of the wrong woman. You’d think that would make men more careful, wouldn’t you, but no. Guys never learn, seemingly, and they will never stop being attracted to nubile underage females with unblemished bodies. One can’t blame them for that, for basic human biology; it’s what they choose to do about it that matters…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234