The enjoyable, relatable documentary "(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies" takes a pointed look at the ways, big and small, that deceit infuses and often determines our life course.
Directed by Yael Melamede (who co-wrote with Chad Beck), the film looks to Israeli-born Dan Ariely, an author, behavioral economist and Duke University professor, as our genial and articulate guide who lectures on the social, psychological and economic effects of lying. He also takes us through amusing experiments conducted to test human integrity, particularly when influenced by monetary gain.
Spread throughout Ariely's discourse are a variety of involving, true-life examples of folks whose untruths — white lies, tall tales, "fudges" and whoppers — ranged from simply irritating family members to landing said liars in prison.
Interview subjects, who speak frankly about their past dishonesty, include Joe Papp, a onetime pro cyclist caught doping; ex-NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who used sensitive league information to bet on NBA games; Marilee Jones, a former dean of admissions at MIT who falsified her own academic history; and ex-Manhattan stockbroker Garrett Bauer and former corporate lawyer Matthew Kluger, who hatched and fostered a complex insider trading scheme.
Most poignant, however, is the story of Ohio mom Kelley Bolar, who lied about her home address so her daughters could attend a better school district. It did not end well.
Rounding out this well-paced treatise are further interviews with scientists, behaviorists, professors and college students, plus bits of animation and an intriguing visit to an "honesty shop" in India.
"(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies."
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
Playing: At Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena.