Re:View – ‘Little White Lies’

The Arts

Actor/ director Guillaume Canet has clearly set out to beat Hollywood at its own game. First he made a French version of the US thriller ‘Tell No-One’, and now he has effectively rewritten ‘The Big Chill’ (and John Sayles”The Return of the Secaucus Seven’) for Gallic audiences, relocating the idea of a bunch of friends united by grief to Bordeaux.

These late thirtysomethings are, if anything, in worse shape than their predecessors, coping with the after-effects of years of caning it, broken affairs, commitment issues and – for one – the anger of a mid-life crisis.

An extended bravura single-shot opening follows one of the gang, Ludo, through a party-hard nightclub, out onto the Paris streets, onto his scooter and under a truck. His friends have all booked their annual vacation together for a month (this is France, after all, where everyone disappears for the whole of August), but they elect to go rather than stay by his bedside.

Over a leisurely two and a half hours, peppered with R&B classics, the problems unfold and reach painful resolutions. The most peculiar is Vincent’s possible latent gayness, which takes the alarming/amusing form of a crush on his older best buddy. There’s commitmentphobe Marion Cotillard, always rushing off to work in Africa whenever lovers get serious, and Eric’s endless infidelities, plus a rampaging weasel that catalyses a crisis.

These are the messy, selfish children of ‘The Big Chill’, and the moral is that you can’t get by without giving something up and committing to others – a little trite, but delivered with a glossy and charming élan. The French title is ‘Les Petits Mouchoirs’ and it would take a hard heart not to need a hankie at the end.

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