Deceiver

on January 30, 1998 by Christine James
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   This darkly comic psychological thriller/murder mystery (aka "Liar") stars the always compelling Tim Roth as Wayland, a disturbed genius accused of killing a prostitute ("Jerry Maguire's" Renee Zellweger). But he turns the tables on the investigators ("Mulholland Falls'" Chris Penn and "Rosewood's" Michael Rooker) by using his superior mental abilities to unnerve and manipulate them.
   A compulsive liar, temporal lobe epileptic, alcoholic, filthy rich summa cum laude Harvard psychology graduate with a 151-point IQ, Wayland finds dark games a gleeful distraction from the empty bitterness of his life caused by familial disharmony and other deep-seated emotional problems, and the cocksure but cerebrally inferior detectives are perfect targets for our intellectually formidable antihero.
   Although some plot elements are ultimately a little convoluted and confusing, "Deceiver" is a fascinating character study, an impressive actors' showcase, and a superior thriller. Filmmaking brothers Josh and Jonas Pate ("The Grave") show great promise, confidence and originality, particularly exemplified by their uniquely wry method of character exposition.    Starring Tim Roth, Renee Zellweger, Chris Penn and Michael Rooker. Directed and written by Josh and Jonas Pate. Produced by Peter Glatzer. An MGM release. Drama/thriller. Rated R for violence, language and some sexual content. Running time: 101 min.
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