Directed by: Michael Maren
Distributed by: Saban Films
Written by Alexander Reams
If one were to throw the words cookie-cutter, fish-out-of-water story with a supporting cast of notable performers into Google, one might find themselves recommended “A Little White Lie,” a film that desperately clings to those terms. A film that tries to be uplifting while making the viewer sad they wasted two hours on one of the most generic pictures to haunt the silver screen in quite some time. Michael Maren is behind the camera and sets the tone of the film. His performers go at the text from a comedic angle instead of a dramatic one. Maren makes little effort to hide what his movie is, a half-baked film that telegraphs its ending in the beginning.
Let’s break down the words I listed, beginning with fish-out-of-water, Maren sets the film’s focus on a handyman named Shriver. Shriver (Michael Shannon) happens to share the same name as a famous author that is attending the very same literary festival he’s been invited to. By placing our blue-collar worker Shriver in a high-society setting, the film is able to set up a device that allows it to go inside Shriver’s head, letting the audience hear Michael Shannon’s Shriver have a conversation with himself. These talks are the single intriguing part of “A Little White Lie,” providing an insight into an average man who sees himself as a fraud, and his need for validation. That’s the angle Maren should’ve approached this story from, and he gives himself so many opportunities to do so that it quickly becomes frustrating to watch.
My biggest issue with “A Little White Lie” is its laziness, its apathy towards any plot that is driven and fleshed out, the apathy of even a great performer in Michael Shannon, and the lack of anything new being said. Even down to the minute technical details, such as the blocking of a scene between Shannon and Kate Hudson in a bar that is poorly lit to make the background look similar to a green screen. The lighting and framing are only worsened by a score that pierces the eardrum with the subtlety of an ice pick with disjointed editing that is either half-assed or half-thought souring the film further. This is what people mean when they complain about movies not having the same effect they used to. And the facetious nature of these cookie cutter low-level studio films that eventually all wind up in a bin at a dollar store, collecting dust.
“A Little White Lie” Trailer
You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.