10 Movies That Lied So Much They Told The Truth

Catch Me If You Can is a cinematic feat of a snake swallowing its own (fictitious) tail.

A Beautiful Mind Russell Crowe

There's absolutely nothing that says movies must be honest with audiences about what they are, the story they're telling, or where things are going.

And while lying to viewers is definitely a risky gambit that might just piss everybody off, sometimes movies can end up in an unexpectedly more profound, even honest place amid the pile of half-truths and flat-out bulls**t.

Sometimes a film tells enough lies that it also, perhaps accidentally, ends up telling the truth on another level. Maybe it's a movie about dishonesty or lying, or the central character is an historic charlatan whose deception is exposed on the grandest Hollywood stage.

It's an incredibly tricky balance to strike, and few movies have pulled it off entirely successfully, but sometimes when a filmmaker obscures the truth enough, it's actually in the service of revealing an altogether more compelling truth.

From movies which put the audience perfectly in the mindset of a compulsive liar to those which used a veil of non-truth to tell a very truthful story, these films all lied enough that, in the end, they were more honest than most movies ever are...

10. Elvis

A Beautiful Mind Russell Crowe
Warner Bros.

Some criticised Baz Luhrmann's Elvis Presley biopic for telling Elvis' (Austin Butler) story from the perspective of his sleazeball former manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), but no matter what you make of Tom Hanks' bewildering performance in the role, it was absolutely done for a reason.

Rather than take a totally conventional Wikipedia page approach to its subject, having the story unfold from the POV of Parker - a flagrantly dishonest charlatan and classic unreliable narrator - gives us a brutally honest account of how Elvis was so aggressively commodified in his lifetime.

What could be more on-brand for Parker than to deny Elvis agency in his own story and frame it entirely around himself? Just as Parker had a stranglehold on Presley's career, he too changed the myth to fit his own self-serving agenda.

This isn't to say that Elvis is a great or even particularly good movie, but in making the unexpected choice to appoint Parker the protagonist of a movie called Elvis, it cuts deeper to the heart of how celebrity can dehumanise a person, stripping away the flesh and leaving a mere symbol behind.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.