Must-See Movie Review: 'Little White Lies' (2010)

A magnificent ensemble leads this dramatic comedy about a flawed group of friends who head out on a lavish vacation, despite their beloved buddy suffering a severe motorcycle accident shortly before their planned excursion.

“Little White Lies” (originally titled “Les Petits Mouchoirs”) is written and directed with natural panache by Guillaume Canet, who brought audiences the thrilling “Tell No One.” His 2010 French-language drama envelops an adult atmosphere of unspoken emotion, relatable comedy, and character-driven drama.

Before heading on their annual vacation, the set of friends are each dealt separate personal struggles to sift through, while they are simultaneously affected by the accident of the group’s nucleus, Ludo (Jean Dujardin). Marie (Marion Cotillard) is stuck in a string of non-monogamous relationships and hitting a life crossroads.

Meanwhile, Vincent (Benoit Magimel) confides something to Max (Francois Cluzet) regarding their relationship. These are the core storylines that are intricately weaved throughout this soulful drama.

Where other films might slip into melodrama, “Little White Lies” shows restraint. Holding back on overwrought dialogue, it allows the dazzling ensemble to speak what cannot be expressed with words and they do so with masterful poignancy and eloquence. It is difficult to recall the last time an entire cast possessed such strong natural chemistry.

It is this innate on-screen bond that makes the entire picture come into focus and resonate with greater authenticity. Francios Cluzet’s performance as the blistery Max gives the film its comedic flair, and Benoit Magimel gives a tender performance as the conflicted, Vincent. Marion Cotillard and Gilles Lellouche also offer heartfelt turns as the monogamy-challenged friends in the group.

The cinematography is stunning, and the locale offers a visual feast for the eyes. In “Little White Lies,” French cinema’s naturalistic approach to telling life stories shines through again with effervescent appeal.

It stays remarkably sincere as the plot takes on various forms, oscillating nicely between comedy and drama. For a film that’s title talks of deceit, it features characters that are pretty transparent with each other, making venerable attempts at trying to do the right thing and sometimes failing miserably at it.

While “Little White Lies” has drawn comparisons to the yuppie staple “The Big Chill,” the two films are actually quite different. Setting “Little White Lies” apart, in a positive fashion, is its characters.

Where the protagonists of “The Big Chill” whined and engaged in tireless self-pity, the protagonists of “Little White Lies” acknowledge their imperfections, and spend most of the time admitting they are not blameless in their current predicament.

The two-and-a-half hour run time might seem indulgent; however, it truly flies by as it absorbs the audience in the tension of clandestinely shared truths and bold revelations.

The sweeping melody of a stirring rock soundtrack compliments the scenic happenings and bolsters its vacation feel to exceptional levels. What Guillaume Canet has crafted is a story that is rarely seen in Hollywood.

It is a film about ordinary people dealing with struggles, both major and minor -- together. There are no flashy action scenes, robots, or criminal intrigue. It is just people being people, flaws, and all. The fate of these characters hangs in the balance and rooting for them to make it through to the other side intact is its alluringly effective hook.

Rating: 8.5/10

[Featured Image by EuropaCorp Distribution]