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Les petits mouchoirs

Little White Lies

 

Little White Lies

French comedy-drama from the director of Tell No One, starring Marion Cotillard (Inception) and François Cluzet (Tell No One) about a group of friends who go on their annual beach holiday together despite a recent tragedy.

Every year, Max (Cluzet), a successful restaurant owner, and his wife invite a close group of friends to their beach house to celebrate a birthday and kick-start the holiday. But, this year, before they all leave Paris, their close friend Ludo (Jean Dujardin) is hurt in a serious accident, setting off a dramatic chain of reactions and revelations. Friendships are tested as feelings of guilt surrounding the accident and attraction between married friends spill out into the open.

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Synopsis : A la suite d'un événement bouleversant, (un des leurs gît sur un lit d'hôpital), une bande de copains - vieux trentenaires, jeunes quadras - décide, malgré tout, de partir en vacances au bord de la mer comme chaque année.

Ont-ils le droit de s'amuser ou, au choix, de se pourrir la vie à coups de petites névroses quand l'autre est entre la vie et la mort ?

Cet été-là, au Cap-Ferret, malgré l’amitié qui les unit, des vérités seront enfin dites et des comptes réglés. Leur amitié, leurs certitudes, leur culpabilité, leurs amours en seront ébranlées. Fini de se planquer. Ils vont enfin devoir lever les "petits mouchoirs" qu'ils ont posés sur leurs secrets et leurs mensonges.

Ces « petits mouchoirs » dissimulent les secrets des amis avant de sécher leurs larmes de rire et de chagrin.

Movie Review: Little White Lies   By Peter Calder

The second feature by one of the superstars of contemporary French cinema is an ensemble comedy-drama that is entrancing and infuriating in about equal measure.

It is often engrossing, the script is crisply written and the acting is first rate. But it's at least half an hour too long and when, late in the piece, one of its minor characters delivers the others a dressing-down for their self-centredness, he gives voice to a frustration that has dogged the viewer: the angst of middle class 30-somethings is a theme that French filmmakers, from Truffaut, through Rohmer to Jean Becker, explore with irresistibly understated style but this film needed a firmer hand both in script development and the edit suite.

Canet, a leading actor (The Beach, Farewell), was the writer-director brains behind the sensational thriller Tell No One a few years back. He casts his partner Marion Cotillard, whose performance as Edith Piaf earned her the first acting Oscar for a French film, as the centre of the ensemble here in a movie that inevitably recalls The Big Chill, with a soundtrack that includes Bowie, Joplin and the Isley Brothers efficiently instructing the viewer what to feel and when.

In a stunningly staged accident early on, a young party boy, Ludo (Dujardin), is critically injured. His circle of friends agonise about whether to proceed with a planned group holiday in the south-west and decide on a shortened version.

Each member of the crew that then gathers in the unostentatiously gorgeous seaside house of stressed-out restaurateur Max (Cluzet) is carrying some sort of baggage. Vincent (Magimel), Max's osteopath, is nursing a secret passion he doesn't quite understand, Antoine (Lafitte) is obsessed with the absent Juliette but can't see what is plain to everyone else - that it's over, Eric (Lellouche), an actor, takes an emotional gut punch at the film's mid-point and Marie (Cotillard) seems, at first, the solid lodestone of the group but her pain just takes longer to surface.

It's an encounter group in dappled sunlight with excellent wine and Canet's script brings the characters slowly into focus so you learn to like them. But the film's length gives you time to go right off them too. It's worth noting that it was a spectacular hit in France but in a year that has given us a good number of emotionally literate French films (such as Summer Hours and the upcoming Beautiful Lies), this one is slightly outclassed.

Stars: 3.5/5
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Francois Cluzet, Benoit Magimel, Gilles Lellouche, Jean Dujardin, Laurent Lafitte, Valerie Bonneton, Pascale Arbillot, Jean Dujardin Director: Guillaume Canet
Running time: 148 mins
Rating: R16 (contains offensive language, drug use and sexual themes) In French with English subtitles.