out of Five
Running time: 154
Canet's ensemble drama is well acted and has several nice moments but it's also way too long and it's hard to engage with any of the characters. Needs more Dujardin.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by actor-turned-director Guillaume Canet (Tell No One), Little White Lies begins with an astonishing, lengthy single-take shot that follows life-of-the-party Ludo (Jean Dujardin) as he makes his way out of a nightclub and rides a moped home. However, after Ludo is injured in a crash, his group of 30-and-40-something friends (including Francois Cluzet as Max, Gilles Lellouche as Eric, Benoit Magimel as Vincent and Marion Cotillard as Marie) gather by his hospital bed and collectively decide to proceed with their planned month-long seaside vacation in picturesque Cap-Ferret.
Once on holiday, Ludo is largely forgotten and the friends all find their own problems to deal with, particularly Max, who is flustered by a declaration of love from straight) best friend Vincent and also becomes obsessed with ridding the beach house of an infestation of weasels. Meanwhile, Eric and Antoine (Laurent Lafitte) attempt to persuade their estranged partners to join them, while Marie has her own romantic entanglements to sort out.
The performances are excellent, particularly Dustin Hoffman-lookalike Cluzet, who's given the most to do; his futile weasel-bashing scenes are a particular highlight. There's also strong support from Cotillard, Magimel and Lellouche, but it's rather telling that the film is completely stolen by Jean Dujardin, even though he's only in a small handful of scenes (his final appearance is well worth waiting for).
Canet's stated intention with the film was to be critical of the group's selfishness, but this backfires slightly because we're left without any sympathetic characters. Similarly, although on the one hand there's a certain pleasure to be taken in working out all the relationships for yourself (a deliberate decision on Canet's part), you quickly lose interest in doing so because they're all so unlikeable.
On top of that, there's simply not enough plot to sustain or justify a running time of over two and a half hours and the film really drags in the middle section as a result. It also really suffers whenever Jean Dujardin is offscreen, which, unfortunately, is 95% of the film.
Despite some good moments and strong performances from a talented cast, Little White Lies is ultimately something of a slog to sit through and the lack of likeable characters means that it fails to deliver the required emotional punch.