Little White Lies” is well made and features a willing cast but it doesn’t find a reason to exist. By the end I didn’t know what the writer/director Guillaume Canet was trying to get at, so the film left me cold and unsatisfied.
It’s about a group of close friends who vacation at one of the friends’ fancy beach house every year. However, this time one of the friends Ludo (a vastly underused Jean Dujardin, from “The Artist”) gets in a near fatal motorcycle accident, putting him in intensive care. There’s a dark cloud over the event but the remaining friends decide to go on the vacation anyway because they’re selfish and have some kind of issue they’re dealing with.
There’s Max (Francois Cluzet) the rich but unhappy CEO of a hotel company (and owner of the beach house) who also has to deal with the fact that another one of the friends Vincent (Benoit Magimel) revealed that he has an attraction to him. Then there are the two lovesick guys Eric (Gilles Lellouche) and Antoine (Laurent Lafitte) who each have girl trouble. And there’s Marie (Marion Cotillard) who’s always going to exotic locations and sleeping around, unable to commit. In addition, Max’s wife and kids and Vincent’s wife and son accompany the five.
The movie mainly takes place during the vacation as these ten people interact with one another. Some moments are fun and amusing, others are turbulent and the gloves come off. The movie is roughly two and a half hours and yet nothing really happens. I don’t just mean in terms of plot and structure but also in terms of characters and emotions. We spend so much time with these people but we hardly get to know them. Sure, we see flashes of development here and there but none of them are well defined.
The picture is unfocused; Canet jumps from one character’s problems to the next without any nuance or attention. Therefore they remain one-dimensional and there’s no reason to care about them, or anything. It gets to the point where one character literally sounds out the realization that the other friends (and the audience) is supposed to get from the movie overall, which is sad mainly because said realization is trivial and can be realized early on.
And what about Ludo? He’s obviously the reason why there’s so much trouble and conflict between the other friends. He’s a crucial piece to the story but we barely see or hear from him. Like all of the other characters he’s just a snapshot.
All of the cast members are competent in their roles, but none of them go deep enough in their roles. They don’t live as their characters. But again, they’re all experienced and capable; they at least keep “Little White Lies”--a well-intentioned film that never justifies its existence-- from being a complete disaster.