American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
What can compare with the white-knuckle suspense of uploading a file? "Deception," that's what. This is a movie jam-packed with all the thrills of watching that little progress bar grow and grow until it fills the alloted space in the pop-up box on your computer screen.
The most thrilling sequence in the movie actually does involve a race between a disconnect countdown and a file upload on accountant Ewan McGregor's IBM laptop. If you had a lot of rhythmic, percussive music blaring away while you were transferring files on your laptop, you might find it exciting, too. But maybe not.
"Deception" -- which, deceptively, has been tracked under such aliases as "The List," "The Tourist," "Manipulation" (in France) and "Untitled Hugh Jackman Project" -- ostensibly trades in the title commodity. Meek, bespectacled auditor Jonathan McQuarry (as in McVictim, played by McGregor) meets suave, predatory lawyer Wyatt Bose (Jackman) in a conference room late one night while the office cleaning lady and the office cleaning gentleman sneak off into the men's restroom to polish each other's linoleum.
"Are you working late or are you downloading a multitude of porn?" Wyatt asks, unidiomatically. Are square-jawed big-city lawyers really this inarticulate? Perhaps it is a clue that he is not who he doesn't quite seem. Wyatt whips out a joint, and the unlikely new best friends smoke away the best evening Jonathan claims to have had since he saw Van Halen in '87. Before he lets that one slip, he confesses that he likes the order and symmetry of numbers, yet he sometimes looks out the high-rise glass windows of whatever firm he's auditing and he sees "life literally passing me by." Accountants and their metaphors: They will not be stopped!