A follow-up to the well-received thriller Tell No One, Little White Lies is unfortunately smug, tedious drivel that overstays its welcome for at least an hour. This review contains spoilers, but if you haven’t seen it then that’s ok because it means you’ll be able to leave the cinema after only 90 minutes instead of the full, gruelling 150.
In a nutshell; a group of stubbly French men and Marion Cotillard are all devastated by a friend of theirs being badly injured in a car crash but not so devastated that they don’t go on holiday. While on holiday they all turn out to be terrible people. Two and a half goddamn hours later and you’ll be wishing they were all in the car crash.
The ensemble is largely made up of attractive, healthy, French thirtysomethings who all appear to be deeply unhappy about something, possibly about being attractive, healthy, French thirtysomethings. They are all uninteresting people wracked with uninteresting relationship issues and everyone keeps snapping at each other before necking another glass of wine and giving everyone hugs and kisses. It’s like watching a French episode of Big Brother except it NEVER ENDS. One pair of characters fall out and reconcile with each other no fewer than three times, and you wonder why they’re even bothering as nobody seems to enjoy anybody else’s company.
At one point — around the two hour mark I think, right about the time you’ll be thinking whether it’s worth going for a piss or not because you’ve forgotten how long the film is — we’re made to sit and watch the cast watching old videos of previous gatherings, all just as tedious as what we’ve already had to sit through. If only one of the videos had been of them watching a still-older video, then I think the meta-torment would have been complete.
The film ends with an extended blubathon that means something to the characters but nothing to the audience as it involves the death of someone who’s only had about five lines in the entire film. This part of the film teeters on the edge of hilarity, going on for a good half an hour and full of full-screen closeups of the cast covered in tears and snot, snot-on-demand being a sort of actor’s “Fuck you lot, look how good a fake-cryer I am!” gesture. The final few minutes play like one of those enforced, drawn out laughs at the end of ’80s cartoons and is about as contrived a situation as you can imagine, of the sort that only happens in cinema. The film ends on a freeze-frame that’s held for about 30 toe-curling seconds as you suddenly worry that the film is going to jump back into life.
Marion Cotillard has been heavily praised for her turn here as the slightly unhinged, quirky, passionate one, i.e., the same role she always plays, i.e., herself. And to be fair, she does play it well. In fact, credit where credit is due; the entire cast is entirely believable as a bunch of unlikeable cretins so, you know, well done everyone.