In “Millie Lies Low,” Millie (Ana Scotney), an aspiring architect from Wellington, New Zealand, experiences a panic attack moments before her plane takes off. After disembarking, she realizes that it will now be impossible for her to afford to travel to New York City, where she was about to take an internship at a top firm.
No matter: Millie is already a seasoned fraud — she got her scholarship by stealing ideas from her best friend, Carolyn (Jillian Nguyen) — and so she uses technology to maintain the illusion that she crossed the international date line as planned. She places a video call to friends (forgetting to account for the flight lengths or the time difference) and fakes pictures of herself standing in Times Square and near the Empire State Building.
Wellington, with its steep hillsides, private cable cars and ringed natural harbor, could not pass for New York if you photographed it upside down and backward, and Millie’s act turns into even more of a stretch once she stakes out a spot by her mother’s home to poach the Wi-Fi and pitches a tent. In her first feature, the director, Michelle Savill, presents Millie’s motivations as self-destructive but understandable. Scotney, never quite mugging for sympathy, plays her well.
But given that Millie starts as an architectural plagiarist and moves into buffoonery as the film proceeds (stealing her boyfriend’s passport, kidnapping her own pet bunny), the screenplay’s efforts to redeem her face a difficult uphill climb. In the end, the movie far too easily waves away the potential interpersonal damage Millie has caused.
Millie Lies Low
Not Rated. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. In theaters.