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Silver Tongues

January 2011

Lee Tergesen plays Gerry in this independent movie filmed that has drawn great praise for its twisty plot and edgy characterizations.

Shot in upstate New York in December 2009, "Silver Tongues" premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival Jan. 23, 2011, and earned the festival's Audience Sparky Award for Best Narrative Film. Slamdance is known as a scrappy alternative to the Sundance Film Festival. Both call Park City, Utah, home.

The movie went on the film festival circuit throughout 2011 and had its New York City premiere Nov. 18-24 at the reRun GastroPub Theater in Brooklyn. The Nov. 23 screening featured an appearance by Lee Tergesen and director Simon Arthur in person.

"Silver Tongues" was released on DVD in the U.S. on May 29, 2012. [Amazon listing]

In an article from Indiewire.com on Sept. 1, 2010, Producer Jared Moshe noted that writer/director Simon Arthur "was a huge fan of Lee Tergesen from 'Oz,' where he showed an incredible talent in his ability to show a huge range of emotions and personalities, so we went after him first. Simon and I early on agreed that we wanted to cast the film around the best actors for the roles rather than stunt cast."

Furthermore, Arthur has said: "Lee gives a brilliant performance, and in a way he’s playing five different characters."

Here are some notes on the film and praise for Lee's performance from Drea Clark, programmer for the Slamdance Film Festival.

Watching this cat-and-mouse game, where you are certain of nothing (including who is the cat and who is the mouse), is a sexy, thought-provoking treat. The controlled charisma of the two leads, Lee Tergesen and Enid Graham, brings intensity to multi-layered performances that shimmer and respond to each exchange, situation and nuance. By setting these animals loose in an almost vignette-style structure, director Simon Arthur lets them breathe, pace and shift in each environment. You never quite know who is pulling what strings, and you definitely never want to look away.

A preview of "Silver Tongues" for the 13th annual Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, also includes great praise for Lee:

The narrative itself is structurally similar to David Mamet's complex, unreliable stories, minus the stylized dialogue, but is certainly enhanced by Lee Tergesen and Enid Graham, both of whom can simply own scenes with a mere gesture. It's a wholly unpleasant journey that begins with deceit, moves through despair, and then veers headlong into derangement, winking at viewers along the way and wallowing in its own clever tricks. (Source: Black & White City Paper)

The Hollywood Reporter has a prediction and some praise in a Sept. 22, 2011, review.

While the film may be too slight to warrant domestic theatrical exposure, DVD, TV and VOD beckon for a production that's much less about striking visuals than debate-provoking ideas and strong performances. ...

That Silver Tongues remains consistently engaging and absorbing is due in no small part to Graham and Tergesen, who make the most of roles that provide much scope for challenging performances-within-performances.

Encore Online reviewed the film before its screening at the Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington, N.C., Nov. 12:

"Silver Tongues" is a sharply unsettling and biting debut from Scottish writer/director Simon Arthur. Expanding on his U.K.-set 2007 short of the same name, Arthur explores the themes of deception, manipulation and sexual control in this tightly-wound psychological drama. ... Arthur doesn’t pull any punches here. He lets the calm pacing of the film slowly build tension, without relying on obvious or cliché cues for its taut moments. The film gives no backstory for its main characters -- two traveling lovers who get off on deceit -- instead Arthur lets audiences fill in the details for themselves.

...Lee Tergesen and Enid Graham fully embody the role-playing sociopaths identified only in the credits as "Gerry" and "Joan." The film is structured around four vignettes, in which Gerry and Joan manipulate their way throughout New England (the film was shot in upstate New York), passing through others’ lives whilst conducting various kinds of social experiments for their own pleasure.

"Silver Tongues" isn’t easily palatable, with its unsettling undercurrent in the vein of Steven Soderbergh’s "Sex, Lies and Videotape." However, its rewarding ending leaves a memorable but disturbing aftertaste with plenty of food for thought.

The official synopsis of the movie says "Silver Tongues" follows a couple, Gerry and Joan, who use their talent for acting and performance as part of a dark game.

Driving from town to town, the two lovers don different personas to deceive and destroy the lives of the people and communities in their path. But each manipulation takes its toll. Soon the performances spiral out of control, and the game grows treacherous and they turn against each other.

Joan is played by Broadway actress Enid Graham.

Charmaine Reedy (in photo at right) has a supporting role as Fiona, a member of a reverend’s congregation who goes through an emotional and moral roller coaster and ultimately winds up defending and supporting her spiritual leader. (Source)

Scottish filmmaker Simon Arthur also created a short film of the same title and theme in 2007. The synopsis of the award-winning short is as follows: A wandering couple travel the road, becoming different people in each town they descend upon, playing a gleefully sadistic game of deceit.

The [London] Guardian sums up the feature-length movie in a Sept. 29, 2011, review:

... Silver Tongues is a really well-crafted psychological drama, made with terrific technical flair: clearly influenced by David Mamet but nonetheless very distinctive and supremely watchable. A married couple are apparently travelling around the country, pretending to be people that they're not, manipulating the people that they meet sexually, playing mind-games and generally messing with their heads. But as the action progresses, and we see them in various different situations, Arthur permits the audience to wonder if they are messing with each other's heads as well.


Movie Gallery
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(21 images)

Official poster

At the screening,
Nov. 23, 2011 in Brooklyn
See more pics
Read Meeting Lee #12

Related Links


Official movie page

Available on DVD

Movie trailer
at YouTube

Producer Jared Moshe's blog

Facebook page

Interview with Lee and director Simon Arthur

Movie stills
from Josh Silfen

Film Festival 2011

Indiewire article
Sept. 1, 2010

Encore online review
Nov. 8, 2012

Article (PDF) from
Rivertowns Enterprise
Dec. 11, 2009