The Lie Ending Explained (2018 Movie)

The Lie is a 2018 crime drama directed by Veena Sud. An incident involving two girls leaves the parents appalled, and a father’s pursuit of the truth begins to wreck everything. The Lie’s cast has Mireille Enos, Peter Sarsgaard, Joey King, Cas Anvar and Devery Jacobs in the leading roles. I’m on the fence with this film; I didn’t know what to make of the character definition. Most viewers were asking “but why?” and “but why not?” at the end of the film. It’s not a movie I’d strongly recommend, but I leave the judgement up to you. Here’s the plot analysis and ending of the movie The Lie explained; spoilers ahead.

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

The Lie: Plot Synopsis

Kayla and Britney are friends, but she kills Britney over an argument seemingly about a boy. Kayla’s divorced parents try and hide the murder and pin the disappearance of Britney on her father, who they believe is abusive. Britney’s mother tries to pull some strings, while Kayla makes up further lies and presents them to the authorities. It all backfires as the investigation leads back to Kayla’s inhaler at the bridge, which Kayla’s family claims they’ve never been to.

In desperation, Kayla’s parents try to plant evidence that incriminates Britney’s father, but he catches them in the act. In a fit of the moment, Kayla’s mother drives over and kills Britney’s father. Their frantic efforts to protect their daughter turn counterproductive when they realize that Britney and Kayla were only lying about the murder in the first place. As a family, they embrace each other coming to terms with how irrecoverably screwed they are as we hear sirens indicating impending arrest.

The Lie Ending Explained

The ending of The Lie discloses that Britney’s death was a prank staged by her and Kayla so that Britney could disappear for some time with her boyfriend. Kayla doesn’t come clean to her parents about it because the situation has her divorced parents becoming close again, so she decides to feed the lie about Britney to make her parents get back together. Well, she’s partially successful; her parents will be tried for murder and sentenced together.

The Crux of the movie The Lie

One thing is pretty clear in The Lie – Kayla and Britney are selectively moronic. The two of them display devious and idiotic behaviour all at once. Establishing this makes it easier to accept the plot and ending of The Lie.

Considering the two girls are from a standard educational background, it would not be a massive expectation that the 15-year-olds know the seriousness of faking death and owning up to murder. However, this film needs suspension of disbelief – that two seemingly rational girls would suddenly behave like Lloyd and Harry, yet be able to sell confession of murder with the panache of a Shakespearean actor.

Kayla and Britney’s relationship

We’re told that Kayla and Britney are good friends. But we also find out later that they were fighting on email where Kayla states Britney stole her boyfriend. Shortly after this, Kayla and Britney stage the murder so that Britney could spend time with her boyfriend. Assuming this is the same boy, it makes no sense that Kayla would go to this extent to help Britney out. Hence we can conclude that their email fight was fake too and their friendship (and stupidity) was real.

What was Kayla’s and Britney’s plan, anyway?

The Lie Movie Kayla Britney Plan

Britney and Kayla had half a plan. 

  • To act like they were fighting over a boy on emails.
  • Britney to fight with her father to get to the bus stop alone.
  • Kayla to spot and stop the car to pick her up.
  • Britney to request a nature break in the vicinity of the bridge. 
  • Britney and Kayla to head to the bridge. Britney leaves to meet and go with her boyfriend for a while.
  • Kayla to lie, saying she pushed Britney over and killed her.
  • ———– screeching end of plan ————-

One could understand if Kayla was angry with Britney for stealing her boyfriend and pushed her over in a fit of the moment. But nothing of the sort happened because, in the end, Britney returns and is back to chill with Kayla. Even if Kayla came clean sooner, but Britney decided to elope with that boy, Kayla would be arrested. Kayla’s character is shown smart enough to anticipate this much.

Is Britney’s dad really abusive?

No, not at all. Britney’s dad is just an everyday father trying to cope with his erratic teenage daughter. The rest are all lies fabricated by Kayla. Britney is known to have disappeared on her dad in previous instances; she’s being a rebellious teenager and has been giving her single dad a lot of trouble. This time around, Britney decides to up the game and make it more dramatic.

Why does Kayla say Britney’s father was abusive?

She lies. Clearly, Kayla is deep in character; her acting is on point – I’m talking about Kayla here, not Joey King. It was important that her parents got back together, even if it meant getting an innocent man incarcerated or even getting her own parents in trouble with the compounding lie. Kayla just cooks up information about Britney’s dad hitting her regularly. She knows clearly that Britney is alive and will be back soon to refute these claims, yet Kayla confidently lays out her false accusations and sells them astonishingly well. These claims only turn the suspicions back on to Kayla when the authorities ask the neighbours about Britney’s dad and realize that he’s actually a regular guy.

Why is Detective Barnes so annoying?

Well, Detective Barnes, the character, appears to have partially read the script to the movie The Lie. It feels as if he knows he needs to suspect Kayla’s family but doesn’t understand why yet. His first move is to trace Britney’s phone to downtown, where the majority population of any city lives. His sharp mind quickly narrows the possible suspects down to Kayla’s dad, who lives downtown along with 200,000 other people. Detective Barnes then accuses Kayla’s dad of being romantically involved with Britney, a minor. Detective Barnes adds value to his claims by stating Britney is “pretty hot“. The only thing this man was missing was a theme song and a victory pose after completing his accusations.

Kayla does say, “I pushed her because of you!” to her father. But she’s lying about the incident, and therefore this statement a lie too. 

She also says, “Do you think she’s pretty?” and this is a teenager insecurity surfacing, later corroborated with her dialogue, “No one likes me. None of the boys at school even look at me.

Nothing from the beginning to the ending of The Lie points to Kayla’s dad being involved with Britney in any way.

What is the email the authorities pull out?

Britney’s emails are searched to find Kayla’s message, threatening to kill Britney for stealing her boyfriend. Considering that Kayla’s lie was all about allowing her friend Britney to elope with the boyfriend, I’m going to infer that this email was planned too. The two girls probably thought, “wouldn’t it be amusing if they found incriminating evidence against you and they actually arrested you? And then I showed up alive whenever I wanted to?“.

How does Kayla’s inhaler get on the bridge?

Kayla is meticulous enough to sell the lie to avoid the situation of her father calling 911. She’s also capable of cooking up stories and brilliantly act in front of a detective. But she’s clumsy enough to drop her inhaler at the bridge where they stage a murder.

What did Kayla’s parents do with Britney’s father’s body in the ending of The Lie?

The Lie Kaylas Parents

When Kayla’s parents get caught trying to plant evidence, they try and drive away. Britney’s dad persists and stands in the middle of the street, trying to stop them. Kayla’s mother, in frustration, slams and kills him. We can assume they didn’t try too hard to hide his body as the next day, the cops show up (the sirens in the end), which indicates that they already found Britney’s dad’s body. I don’t know if they tossed him to the side or just left him there. They only try to wipe the blood off their car. With Britney alive, and all the lies they’ve been telling the detectives, there is no way for Kayla’s parents to get away with what they did.

Alternate Lie Options

Wait, why didn’t the girls go with “Britney attempted a selfie on the bridge and fell trying to get that perfect profile pic“?

Well, it’s the character definition: partial thick-headedness. On the one hand, we witness intelligent adults, and on the other, we have childish, silly kids. The plan was elaborate – Britney was to wait at the bus stop, be picked up and then ask for a pee-stop so she could disappear from there (as opposed to just disappearing from the bus stop). The idea was always to make it dramatic. I suppose it got out of hand when they decide things on the fly, like, “I’ll disappear as per plan, but do remember to tell your dad that you killed me, and we’ll take it from there“.

Why not blame the murder on someone else?

So, one would wonder why not just blame Britney’s disappearance, or even murder, on a mysterious third-person? I suppose it wouldn’t have been as LOL, LMFAO, or ROTFL as taking ownership of murdering your friend. Here is what Kayla has to say in the end – “Britney planned all of it. She said it would be funny if I pretended to have pushed her“.

Why not say it was a peeing accident?

Considering there is no hard evidence against Kayla, her father could have called 911 and claimed the falling into the river was an accident – which he truly believes it was. He anyway attempts to make that call before Kayla tells him she pushed Britney over. Looks like Britney and Kayla were smart enough to preempt that the father would try to call 911, and the lie would avert that, but that smartness didn’t extend to the choice of lie, i.e. murder.

In a nutshell, The Lie is [almost] a great concept executed well. Ironically, the only element that fails to bring the character definition and the plot together is the lie itself, which in turn, bubbles up to fail the film. What did you think about the ending of The Lie? Drop a comment below.