It always takes an unspeakable tragedy to bring certain painful, embarrassing, sticky, inconvenient truths to the surface. Such is the case for the group of Parisian friends and lovers in Little White Lies. For the most part, the film redeems itself of its length with characters and moments that feel real and honest, which makes up for moments that may be fatiguing.
Written and directed by Guillaume Canet (French screen star/heart throb and writer/director of several films, including the acclaimed Tell No One), and starring some of France’s brightest stars, including Academy Award winners Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose, Inception), Little White Lies chronicles the events and revelations that emerge when an intimate group of friends go on their annual vacation right after one of their own (Ludo, Jean Dujardin) is gravely injured in a motorcycle accident.
While distraught and hurting over Ludo’s condition, they try to enjoy their vacation, but instead all their individual fears, anxieties and secrets surface and reach their boiling points. From friendships to marriages, relationships are tested. Some connections are fractured, while others are restored—all in between boat rides and afternoons on the beach.
There are a lot of characters and subplots in Little White Lies, some more prominent and engaging than others, and although the film could not have suffered from one less, no one of them really hurt the film. However, they all contribute to a length that most people will determine to be tedious. Though I could appreciate and engage in all the pieces, the line is fine, and it is easy to see how audiences could find the film to be laborious and become detached.
There is plenty of melodrama to go around the 154 minutes of this movie, but there are also several moments of laughter, sadness and sweetness that feel true, thanks to the solid acting and chemistry from the cast, as well as the character-driven directing style, both of which produce finely-tuned candor.
The cast is exceptional, balancing complexity and subtly to create strong individual performances and an authentic group dynamic. Marion Cotillard churns out a strong performance, and is lovely to watch, as Marie. She is always ON, whether the scene requires delicacy or fierce emotion. François Cluzet and Benoît Magimel also shine as Max and Vincent, in what is the most central and interesting chapter of the story.
The great thing about watching Little White Lies on DVD is that there is a fast forward function for anyone who thinks they might like the movie, but says “Nah,” because they think it is too long. Some parts are skipable, but I wouldn’t skip it all together. It contains acting that is strong, moments that are moving and a Classic American Rock soundtrack that is pretty cool.