Writer/director James Kerwin creates a cinematic masterpiece with Yesterday was a Lie. The film follows Hoyle (played by Kipleigh Brown), a detective searching for a notebook that hasn’t been seen since World War II. The only clues she has are a lounge singer (Chase Masterson, who also produced this film) who speaks in riddles and a professor, John Dudas (John Newton), currently in hiding. As Hoyle pursues every lead, she uncovers philosophical truths, alternative realities and secrets that will change her life, and possibly the world, forever.
The making of this film can be described in one word: intentionality. Every decision is made to impact the audience’s experience, which is exactly how it should be. While I was originally put off by the fact that the film is in black and white, it actually adds to the noir aspects and reaffirms the point that Hoyle expects everything to be clear cut, black and white, but in real life there are shades of grey. The jazz music provides a similar element, and the lyrics the Singer (who doesn’t get a real name) sings demonstrate the importance of the relationships in the film and eventually lead to the discovery of Hoyle’s weakness.
Another strength of Yesterday was a Lie is the faith Kerwin has in the audience. As Hoyle takes this journey, we go with her, and she knows no more or less than we do. Kerwin explains the quantum mechanics that the notebook contains to the best of his ability, referencing Jung’s ideas of a collective unconscious and theories of nonlinear time. These revelations are new to Hoyle and are made very clear, but the audience isn’t hit over the head with it. Instead, he relies on the actors to clarify through their words and actions what is going on, instead of having Hoyle announce every time she comes to a conclusion.
Perhaps the best thing about this film is Hoyle’s role itself. Strong female leads who are still feminine and sexy are rarely seen in the movies, especially in the science fiction and film noir genres. In every situation, it is Hoyle who is in charge, asking the difficult questions and figuring things out. Brown performs this role with grace and spirit, setting Hoyle up as a positive female role model, with the exception of her very evident alcoholism.
There is one thing I didn’t understand about the film, and that is what time period it is supposed to be set in. The detectives all wear vintage looking garb and there are many antique looking telephones, not to mention the old fashioned ambulance that Hoyle rides in. But the research is very advanced for a time so long ago, and that certainly isn’t helped by the fact that Hoyle sends herself an e-mail. I’m no expert on the history of technology, but if the ambulance is shaped like a hearse and they use rotary phones, shouldn’t e-mail be a thing of the future?
Aside from that minor issue, Yesterday was a Lie is one of the best films I have seen this year, if not this decade. If film noir, science fiction, mysteries, romance or excellent movies are something you enjoy, you’ll love Yesterday was a Lie.
DVD Bonus Features
Both of the trailers for the film can be found on the DVD, along with audio commentary by James Kerwin, Kipleigh Brown, and Chase Masterson. Additionally, there are short interviews with members of the cast and crew, making of featurettes, a photo gallery and an 8 page graphic novel preview from artist James Hill, which is pretty much word for word out of the movie. I’d recommend watching the interviews and making of featurette, but if you’re short on time, don’t bother opening the graphic novel preview. It’ll give you déjà vu and makes Hoyle look like a man.
"Yesterday Was A Lie" is on sale April 6, 2010 and is rated PG. Drama, Mystery, Romance, Sci-Fi. Written and directed by James Kerwin. Starring Chase Masterson, John Newton, Kipleigh Brown.