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The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying title card

Year - 2010
Studio - Warner Bros.
Stars - Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Tina Fey, Jeffrey Tambor, Louis .C.K, Rob Lowe, Fionnula Flanagan
Director - Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson
Writing Credits - Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson


The world of this film is one very much like the one we know, except that everyone tells the truth at all times. The concept of lying has never been discovered. Television "entertainment" consists of lectures about historical fact; fictional stories do not exist because they are not truthful.

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is a screenwriter for one of the filmed lecture production companies but, as his assignment is the black plague of the 13th century, he is fired for writing downbeat material. His landlord serves him with an eviction notice. He is in love with Anna (Jennifer Garner) but she tells him that she is not attracted to him, not only because of his financial situation, but the fact that he would be a poor genetic match and their children would be fat with flat little noses.

Dejected and desperate, Mark is presented with a situation that causes him to have a major epiphany — that by saying something that is not the truth, he is able to obtain the money to pay his apartment rent.

The Invention of Lying poster

Realizing the power of his discovery, he creates a script to present to his old employer about a previously unknown event in history (involving Martians, robots, and naked Amazon women), and his work is pronounced the most important screenplay in history.

Mark visits his dying mother (Fionnula Flanagan) in the hospital, who tells him how afraid she is of death, and going to an eternal void. Mark is so saddened by her pain, that he tells her that death is not the end, and that she will go to a "mansion in the sky" and once again be youthful. She dies peacefully, but the doctor and nurses in attendance are amazed by Mark's statements, and soon the word is out about the new truths that he has revealed. Huge crowds of people gather outside his apartment to learn more, and he decides to create a presentation for them, summarized by ten statements, written on two pizza boxes (e.g. there is a "man in the sky" who controls everything, and that we are allowed to do only two bad things in life in order to go to our "mansion.")


As a Film Blanc, The Invention of Lying is subversive. It proposes that for us to "feel good" we need to have our fantasies (lies).