the characters from the Friends sitcom
were French and approaching middle age. That
would give you a pretty accurate picture of Ludo’s circle. It also means their banter and sexual hang-ups
are becoming less comedic and increasingly sad.
However, they will have to do without his company as they struggle with
their latest resentments and insecurities while spending an unusually awkward
holiday together in Guillaume Canet’s Little
White Lies (trailer
opens this Friday in New York.
was the glue that held his friends together.
The reckless bachelor was the one everyone always loved best. Unfortunately, he does not see that semi
coming as he makes his woozy way home after an all night bender. He is in bad shape, but the prognosis is
vaguely encouraging, so his friends agree to an abbreviated vacation, thereby
tempting fate rather wantonly.
summer house belongs to hardnosed hotelier Max Cantara—and no one is allowed to
forget it. Vincent Ribaud certainly won’t. The married father has recently confessed
feelings of ambiguous attraction to his longtime friend. In retrospect, this is a mistake. With Cantara and Ribaud acting conspicuously
aloof around each other, the bachelors Eric and Antoine agonize over
relationships they recently sabotaged.
The latter is a raging neurotic who alienated his girlfriend with his
obsessive behavior. The former is just a
self-centered jerk. Yet, he still
carries a small torch for platonic pal Marie, who is also in the process of driving
away a perfectly good lover, but is not particularly interested in filling the
Ludo is on life support for most of the film, just about every word written
about Lies has invoked The Big Chill. The 1960’s era soundtrack really accentuates
the parallels, but the lack of any further 60’s cultural baggage allows the
story to breathe and veritably breeze along, even though tragedy always lurks
around the corner. Ludo was never any
kind of activist that’s for sure (though Marie sort of is, but her African
field work is largely considered a joke by her friends).
one hundred fifty-four minutes Lies is
a long film, chocked full of melodramatic situations, but somehow Canet never
lets it get too heavy, at least until the big emotional climax. Frankly, he keeps it quite snappy, which is
always a virtue. He has a fine cast to
call upon, including two Oscar winners: Jean Dujardin, only briefly seen as
Ludo (but nice work all the same), and Marion Cotillard, doing her best hipster
Mae West thing as Marie. Yet, it is
Francois Cluzet (who will forever be Françis Paudras in Round Midnight for many of us) who really makes the picture crackle
and hum as the angry but fundamentally decent Cantara. He brings a shot of vigor to each of his
scenes. Conversely, Laurent Lafitte’s
mopey Antoine is like an energy-suck.
though everyone knows where Lies is
headed, it still comes together rather well.
Yes, we all need to grow-up at some point, but we should never forget to
tell our friends what they mean to us.
Indeed, you can stick the film’s messages up there on the fridge next to
the Robert Frost poems. Yet when you get
right down to it, any film that ends with a Nina Simone song can’t be all
bad. Combining several fine performances
with a nimble directorial touch, Little
White Lies somehow breaks down viewer resistance to its ensemble angst. Recommended for Francophiles and fans of the
big name French cast, Little White Lies opens
this Friday (8/24) in New York at the Angelika Film Center.
Labels: Francois Cluzet, French Cinema, Marion Cotillard