The jaunty, neo-noirish crime outing “Lying and Stealing” has its moments — chiefly the engaging performances of sexy leads Theo James and Emily Ratajkowski — but is too short on depth and logic to prove much more than a glossy, forgettable trifle.
James (of the “Divergent” film trilogy) plays Ivan, a skilled, if conflicted art thief trying to work off his late father’s huge gambling debt to the ruthless Dimitri (Fred Melamed); a few more heists and Ivan’s out of the game. Supposedly.
Enter the also-slippery Elyse (Ratajkowski), an aspiring actress Ivan meets at a tony book-signing party, the site of his latest theft. Elyse, who (long story) owes a bundle to a slimy film producer, sees in Ivan a kindred spirit, and their paths continue to cross. That is, until she uses her thespian chops — and feminine wiles — to help Ivan pull off a twisty caper that will settle both their scores.
Unfortunately, the film, slickly directed by Matt Aselton, from a script he penned with Adam Nagata (they also cowrote Aselton’s helming debut, 2008’s enjoyably quirky “Gigantic”), features too many surface conflicts and characters; what does making Ivan’s brother (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) bipolar buy us?
Still, James has star power, Ratajkowski offers nimble support, and there are a few amusing throwaway bits.
‘Lying and Stealing’
Rated: R, for language, some sexual content/nudity, violence and drug use
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Playing: Starts July 12, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on DirecTV