Film Review: Little White Lies

Guillaume Canet’s Little White Lies is an amusing and thought-provoking comedy drama. At 154 minutes however, the film feels overlong; half an hour could have been trimmed and the effect would still be the same.

Restaurant-owner Max and his wife Véro invite their group of friends to their beach house for vacation; a yearly tradition. After their close friend Ludo is seriously injured in an accident, the group still decide to go on holiday. Ludo’s condition seems to have an impact on the group, as tensions rise and secrets come out…

Little White Lies provides a good mix of comedy and drama. The last section of the film is overly emotional, but this can be forgiven for the laughs that Canet has provided up to this point. There is nothing particularly original or spellbinding about Little White Lies, it is simply a film that effectively balances comedy and drama to create an enjoyable watch.

Aside from the dramatic accident at the beginning of the film, incidents are all rather normal and commonplace. The events that take place and the issues that come to light are all fairly identifiable, especially to those of a similar age as the characters. The beauty of Little White Lies lies in Canet’s fantastic writing. Situations are humorous, dramatic or endearing precisely because they seem so natural.

The film is a real character-driven feature. Despite the size of the ensemble cast, each character is given sufficient depth. The group of friends are a diverse bunch, yet it is clear why they are friends, as well as the bonds that tie them together. Although there is an initial selfishness in leaving for a holiday when their friend is so ill in Paris, all of the characters are depicted as multi-dimensional. Actions may sometimes be startling, but none of the group can be described as wholly good or bad.

Canet captures the beauty of his surroundings in Little White Lies. The locations are idyllic, and certainly are a successful tourism advert for the region. Moreover, given the setting, everything looks so placid and natural, a stark contrast to the opening club scene. The soundtrack is also great.

François Cluzet is aptly cast as Max. Cluzet accurately portrays the frustration of the character, and accentuates peculiarities. Benoît Magimel is solid as Vincent, a character struggling between personal feelings and public appearance. Marion Cotillard is great as Marie, bringing the right level of emotion to the character.

Little White Lies is a commendable slice of life picture, boasting great writing and performances. Those undeterred by the duration will find the film rewarding, if a little prolonged.