Film Review: ‘White Lie’ (2019)

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Stars: Kacey Rohl, Amber Anderson, Martin Donovan
Director: Yonah Lewis, Calvin Thomas
Distributor: Rock Salt Releasing

“You need fake medical records?”

A difficult, yet intriguing film. White Lie poses a concept which is horrific, one which transcends a heist of people’s good will into an unbearable and nervy thriller. From Canadian writer-director tag team, Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas, exists a film which feels painfully relevant in the world of social media and its dangers. The thrive of the internet falsehood lies centrally in White Lie, and its neglected consequences are explored in detail.  

Katie Arneson (Kacey Rohl) is a dance student pretending to have cancer in order to score the prize of a university bursary. As a result of her fictitious, yet successful, #Fight4Kate campaign, Katie has already secured $25,000 in donations, but she wants more. She needs more. Unfortunately for Katie, her mask of deception is beginning to slip. After a one-to-one with her father (Martin Donovan) – the only family we see in the film – the world of lies in which she has established begins to turn upside down. In an escalating situation which has placed her in criminal danger beyond comprehension, Katie must pursue a white knight in order to overcome her white lie.

Because of its sensitive subject matter, White Lie can be a troublesome viewing by default. Making an even more difficult viewing, the notion of Katie’s fraud or the existentialism of it is not for any comedic effect, reliance, or anything in any positive nature whatsoever. Katie herself isn’t of a good nature. But she is troubled, deeply troubled. The execution of the scam is soulless and ruthless, but damn, it engages into deep intensity once greater risks are at stake. In this acceleration of intensity, White Lie itself transcends into a form of crime-thriller almost. Despite no emotional investment in the character (why would there be?), the viewer is completely aligned to the path of Katie, whether her decisions be good or bad. The utterly terrific performance of Kacey Rohl is perfect in capturing the vulnerability of such an immoral character – something which has an ever evolving importance as White Lie progresses. 

Sadly, however, the focus and ambiance of White Lie revolves slightly too much around Katie’s fraudulence and the quest navigating it. There is a lack of an explicit defining or exploration of Katie’s background and influence behind her notions. Any information, especially the one scene with her father, feels rather brief. But in having the story up-close and personal with Katie and her actions, the ambiance established can be grotesquely close to her, and taking into context the content within White Lie: it’s probably the right decision, atmospherically, at least. Ultimately, this is a film with a horrible concept, but one that is horribly relevant.     

White Lie is available to watch now on digital, many thanks to TriCoast Entertainment for the pleasure of this film.

4 Stars

Dom.

For John.


This article’s featured image: By Source, Film Forge/Lisa Pictures, Fair Use https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9169036/mediaviewer/rm3458256897/

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