Little White Lies
Review by Tim Carson
WRITTEN and directed by César-winning (that’s French Bafta) director Guillaume Canet, Little White Lies (Les Petits Mouchoirs) is a French comedy drama that packs in more laughs and more tears than most similar Hollywood movies. It’s no wonder it’s become one of the biggest box office hits in French cinema history.
With an all-star ensemble cast including Bafta-winning actress Marion Cotillard (Inception, La Vie En Rose) and another César winner François Cluzet (Tell No One) it’s a powerful exploration of friendship and what it really means.
The film is centred on a group of friends and their annual holiday at the luxurious beach house of the wealthy and successful restaurateur Max (Cluzet). The friends’ plans are thrown into chaos when one of the group, the boisterous Ludo, is badly hurt in an accident.
After some debate they decide to press ahead with their holiday but this year it won’t just be Ludo’s accident that will rock their friendships as emotions run high in some unexpected ways.
Canet populates the film with a rich mix of characters: the kooky Marie (Cotillard); the seemingly happy family man Vincent, his wife Isa and their son; the love-sick Antoine; the vain and flirtatious actor Eric; the uptight Max, his eco-friendly wife Veronique and their two children; and the down-to-earth fisherman Jean-Louis.
The film explores the complexities of such a group and, of course, the little white lies everyone tells to keep the peace or be supportive. Whether that’s as simple as agreeing what food to buy in the supermarket or the more complex realisation that, although you are happily married, you are in love with one of your male friends. And naturally it creates plenty of scope for conflict, humour and a few tears.
While on the surface everyone gets on famously and is having a fun holiday, despite their friend Ludo’s absence, the tension in the group grows and grows before exploding with comic and tragic consequences.
There are some hilarious moments as well as heart-breaking ones and for the most part Canet manages to balance the light with dark pretty well. He’s helped by his strong cast who create believable characters you can identify with and care about.
While told at the leisurely pace typical of much French cinema the film never feels long and it looks beautiful too – although it would be hard not to make the Cap-Ferret location look ugly.
Little White Lies has something for everyone and is well worth catching – especially before you plan that next holiday away with your mates.
In French, with subtitles
Running time: 153mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: August 22, 2011