Review of Little White Lies


Movie Review: "Little White Lies"

-- Rating: NR
Length: 154 minutes
Release Date: August 24, 2012
Directed by: Guillaume Canet
Genre: Comedy, Drama

Released in Europe in 2010, "Little White Lies" is finally finding its way to American audiences. Though many of the main actors are virtually unknown in the United States, this stunning film features a storyline that will draw any viewer into the lives of these characters.

Ludo (Jean Dujardin, "The Artist") has a few too many drinks and gets hit by a truck on his way home from a bar. His closest friends come to see him, and while they are upset over what happened, they still decide to leave him there as they head off on vacation. Those scenes simply set up the rest of the film, much of which revolves around Vincent (Benoit Magimel, "Children of the Century") and Max (Francois Cluzet, "Tell No One").

The two men are long-term friends who share a special bond, and Vincent tells his friend how he feels. When the group reaches the cottage that they are all sharing, they must deal with the aftermath of that relationship. Each of the characters in the movie experiences some problems in their relationships, including Marie (Marion Cotillard, "Inception") who smokes marijuana to deal with her issues.

When watching "Little White Lies," some viewers might find themselves comparing this film to "The Big Chill." Both films focused on a group of friends spending time together after losing one of their own. While this film lacks the festive feeling of the earlier film, it does share some of that film's issues, including a potential relationship between two of the lead characters.

Cluzet and Magimel share the type of chemistry rarely seen onscreen. Cluzet is the perfect bumbling antihero, the married man who cannot admit that he has feelings for another man. Magimel is much cooler in his performance, playing a man who finally admits that he loves another man and eagerly awaiting the resolution to that relationship. Cotillard is at her best in this film, providing a welcome relief from some of the other storylines. Viewers who watched her other films might find her role a little surprising.

The film takes the characters on an emotional ride, and the viewers are lucky enough to follow along on that journey. The director uses imagery to show the troubles hiding just beneath the surface of each character. When Max discovers rats living in the beach house and starts attacking the walls, viewers will understand that something darker is coming.

Director Canet does a smart job of mixing the lighter side of the getaway with some of the darker shots, keeping the audience on their toes. When the group enjoy picnics on the beach and hop in boats for rides around the lake, the viewers will find themselves wondering what will happen next.

While "The Big Chill" kept the focus on the main characters, "Little White Lies" makes a misstep by adding children to the mix. Both Max and Vincent bring their wives and children on vacation, leading to issues as both deal with Vincent's revelation. Max comes across as homophobic, which might make some viewers feel slightly uncomfortable.

The soundtrack to the film also creates a problem for some viewers. Canet fills the film with hits from the 1960s and 1970s, but the songs sometimes feel out of place. In "The Big Chill," those songs were the perfect backdrop for scenes involving characters who grew up with that music. In "Little White Lies," the music feels like it was added for sentimental purposes, and a more modern soundtrack might fit the film better.

Those can look past the soundtrack will find themselves drawn into the world of secondary characters Marie and Eric (Giles Lellouche, "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life"). Marie is a bisexual woman who once dated Ludo and never got over him, while Eric is a man who loves women but cannot commit to anything more than a one-night stand. The two might be perfect for each other, but neither can get past their issues long enough to attempt a real relationship. Marie is the type of character that viewers want to learn more about, but the film neglects her for long stretches, focusing more on Vincent and Max.

There are some strong scenes in "Little White Lies," and those scenes made it a hit film in Europe. While many viewers will draw a comparison to "The Big Chill," the strong acting, great soundtrack, and beautiful settings set this apart from that earlier film. "Little White Lies" has a compelling story that will make some viewers think about their own relationships and friendships.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars