I agree with allyn that L.I.E. was, for the most part, overrated by critics. However, I did like it and give it a measured recommendation. Despite a flawed (and predictable) ending and a frustrating lack of a cohesive message, it's a cool film to watch. First of all, it's expertly shot -- I loved the way it was directed and photographed. The compositions are formally strict and gorgeous, but just threatening to be disturbed by the slightest motion either within the frame or by the hand-held camera. This shooting style underscores a major theme of the film, which is the fine line between love and violence --- a theme best exemplified in the scene where Brian Cox tenderly shaves the chin of Paul Dano, lathering him up and then scraping his young skin with a huge sharp straight razor. The potential for pain or bloodshed is always just around the corner from the most tender shows of affection in this movie.
Cox's performance is as good as they say; I'm not quite as fond of Dano's. Billy Kay has a great face and a good attitude, but his character doesn't get to do much (he's gone after about 40 minutes) so I'll need to see more of him. Good use of music, good editing, and frequently funny dialogue. I really liked how we're forced to question our own pre-conceived judgments of people; for example, is the pedophile really worse than the high school kid who's banging his sister? Little details often come through, creating an overall effect that doesn't really settle in until the film is over: I'm thinking of moments such as when Dano is sitting along outside his house and the two kids come by to squirt guns at him, then he gets hit by more water when the sprinklers automatically turn on. I saw an echo there of the moment when Billy Kay is lying on top of him and starts to spit a giant loogey on him, but sucks it up just before it breaks off. I look forward to better things from Michael Cuesta.