We all want to believe that we’re good people. Good family members. Good friends. We may even lie to ourselves to affirm it. So what happens when you’re forced to face those non-truths, no matter how small, all at once? This is the premise that Little White Lies, or Les petits mouchirs, attempts to tackle. Despite being over two and a half hours of situational dramedy, Little White Lies mostly succeeds on its commitment thanks to the stellar ensemble cast and director/writer Guillaume Canet.
Every year, a group of friends in Paris take their annual vacation to the beach house of Max, the group’s wealthiest member. When one of their friends, Ludo (played by ever-charismatic Jean Dujardin of The Artist), is in a serious car accident the day prior to the trip, the group decides to go anyway in honor of Ludo. This incident incites a host of different reactions by each of the friends, all played brilliantly by Francois Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, & Gilles Lellouche, just to name a few. Throughout the trip, each character must come to grips with their behavior both past and present, towards Ludo and each other, in order to find redemption. Further detail would spoil the reason to see the film; it’s very much a character development tale.
From the opening four-minute tracking shot that would make Martin Scorsese or P.T. Anderson proud to the intimate close-ups that allow the phenomenal acting to shine, it’s clear that Guillaume Canet is a talented director with not so much a story to tell but rather a feeling to evoke from his audience. While this isn’t an unwelcome departure from plot-driven stories, at 154 minutes, it’s certainly a taxing one. That said, the performances are compelling and the third act packs enough emotional punch to justify the exposition.
Little White Lies opens on Friday at the Ritz Five.