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25
Mar 2011
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from The Guardian (UK)

Guillaume Canet’s drama opens in the UK on 15 April. Enjoy the movie in style, with £250 worth of clothing from agnès b

Little White Lies, the new film from the director of Tell No One, Guillaume Canet, opens in a whirl of sex, drugs and late-night revelry. Party animal Ludo sweeps through a Parisian nightclub, flashing a cheeky line to a passing potential conquest after hoovering up more than a few of the above in the venue’s toilets. But just as the audience is girding its loins for a celluloid blitzkrieg of debauchery and fast-living, Ludo whips out of the club, leaps on to a motorcycle and is promptly sent reeling by a collision with another vehicle.

It’s a bravura opening sequence that sets the scene for what is to come, offering a note of caution and a hint that the tight-knit group of Ludo’s friends who visit him in hospital may face similar curbs on their bacchanalian lifestyles. Canet is careful not to judge, but as the gang gather to enjoy their annual summer holiday and try to forget that Ludo remains in hospital, battered and quite possibly on the brink of death, it soon emerges that none of them are living the perfect lives they pretend to.

“After Tell No One, I experienced what you could call a crucial period in my life,” says Canet, whose second film won four Césars (the French equivalent of the Oscars), and was a worldwide box office hit. “I went through several different stages, due to my age partly. At 35, you don’t look at things the same way as when you’re 20. You’ve already taken a few knocks.

“I went through a period of soul-searching, which helped me realise a bunch of things that enabled me to focus on what I really wanted. I realised which friends really counted for me. I straightened out my life, and the main themes of Little White Lies started to crystallise in my mind.”

The holiday retreat’s owner is Max (François Cluzet), a successful but supremely uptight restaurateur who is plagued by weasels in the architecture, the inability of his younger friends to get up in the mornings and the revelation that his long-term friend Vincent (Benoît Magimel), a father-of-two who has brought his family along for the holiday, may have feelings for him. Meanwhile, the gorgeous, irrepressible, weed-smoking rebel Marie (Oscar-winning Marion Cotillard in a these-days rare French role) is nursing an inability to connect to her many lovers, actor Eric (Gilles Lellouche) is struggling to overcome his penchant for hurting those closest to him, and Antoine (Laurent Lafitte) is apparently bamboozled by unrequited love.

“I was immediately touched by the way Guillaume gets under the surface of how we interact, and by the subtlety, honesty and sincerity of what he was trying to say,” says Cotillard of the screenplay, which she read at an early stage. “Guillaume is very observant, with a highly developed artistic sensitivity. He has created a group of believable, close-knit characters.”

Little White Lies is comparable to The Big Chill for its portrayal of a group of friends experiencing shared joy and individual heartbreak as they emerge blinking into the sunlight of fading youth’s epiphany. Canet has created a rich, heartfelt paean to open-heartedness, a wily polemic, subtle yet determined in its conviction that personal blemishes are insignificant in the face of genuine camaraderie and continuing friendship.

The film opens in the UK on 15 April. To celebrate its British debut, the Guardian in association with Lionsgate Films is offering £250 worth of vouchers to spend at French fashion boutique agnès b. To be in with a chance of winning, simply fill in your details below. Good luck.

NB This competition is only open to UK residents

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