It seems like each new month brings another movie about friends gathering in the same house for a reunion, or a vacation, where past hurts and other forms of dysfunction take hold.
“Little White Lies” offers a French take on the formula, prominently featuring Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and “The Artist’s” Jean Dujardin, and comes from the terrific writer-director Guillaume Canet (“Tell No One”), so one might have reasonably hoped for something a bit different than the norm.
At times, this story of friends spending a two-week vacation together in the south of France does seem to be charting its own course. There are subplots, such as one centered on married Vincent’s (Benot Magimel) lust for his buddy Max (Franois Cluzet), that you simply wouldn’t find in Hollywood. The specter of tragedy hangs over the proceedings, as the film opens with one member of the tight-knit group, the gregarious Ludo (Dujardin), hospitalized with a terrible injury.
Fundamentally, this is familiar, lightweight stuff, down to a soundtrack overloaded with English-language hits such as “The Weight” and The McCoys’ “Hang on Sloopy.”
The movie is sporadically compelling. It mostly consists of characters sitting around Max’s vacation home and talking about their past. That could work at 90 minutes, but “Little White Lies” lasts an astonishing 154, pushing past its expiration date. ‘Little White Lies’
H H 1/2 I I
Cast: Franois Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Benot Magimel, Gilles Lellouche, Jean Dujardin, Laurent Lafitte, Valérie Bonneton, Pascale Arbillot, Anne Marivin
Director: Guillaume Canet
Running time: 2:34
Rated: Not rated. In French with English subtitles.