What is the White Lie? The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as a false statement to stop someone from being upset by the truth. However, the main character of the like-named drama, Katie Arneson, saves as much money as she can, pretending she is struggling with cancer. Moreover, the girl doesn’t get how deeply she could be stuck in a lie, going on and on. But the cause of her “innocent” lies is not only the donations. The reason is hidden inside self-perception, which line the directors follow until the finale.
The onscreen story “White Lie” – about a female student who lives by faking that she has melanoma – was introduced to the Canadian cinema world at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019. Its national premiere was in South Korea. The writers and directors are Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas. According to the plot, Katie (Kacey Rohl) fakes her cancer with all that is required to support life. She accepts donations, broadcasts her problem on social networks, and through campaigns that are carried out by charity organizations. Once, she receives a window of time consisting of one week to complete the documents required to get funding for experimental treatment. In other words, she gets a week to maintain the lie, or more than thousands of people will discover her real situation. The plot has two main perspectives on untruth: Katie’s lying to herself, and Katie’s lying to all the people around her.
She becomes confused in her illusions, and no longer distinguishes reality from the fictional world in which she has become used to living. The character’s conflicts, which are concealed by a fatal disease, originate deep in the past. As usual. After her mother’s suicide, she withdrew into a shell, leaving the real world behind her and inventing an alternative one for just for her – with an imaginary illness to allow her to skip school. Katie is in high school at the start of the story. Instead of standing up to the trauma, the girl adopts her new life of weakness to get what she needs. And throughout, believes that she is not doing anything wrong, except missing classes. It is clear that Katie did not grow up in a world where you can get sick to get what you need. She simulates a terminal illness and collects over twenty thousand dollars in donations for her treatment. But now the scale of the disease is a little larger, and the consequences entail not just being called-out at school, but the possibility of arrest and punishment after a court proceeding.
In general, the film is bringing in at best a 7 in the popular ratings, like IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps people have missed the script’s sharpness, the biased turns, and the powerful cast. But the film is worth watching because of the originality of the plot. And I can’t remember anything like it in the world of cinematography. Maybe you could? Anyway, I liked the plot. All the edges of the human manipulator’s tempers are very subtly noted. An infantile liar who believes in what plays as a holy reality. And, of course, the manipulator plays only according to one rule – if you start, then play to the end. This is what the main character does. She lies to her father, her girlfriend, her professors, and her friends. She firmly insists on her sickness, even shaves her hair. But it’s a real pity, as an actress is shaved bald especially for the film. What was obvious.
The key to the plot is not about high morality, as how she can pretend to be terminally ill when there are so many people suffering from a real diagnosis. The plot discovers the struggle between the deceitful creation of the character herself with the real one. She has a strong resistance to her acceptance, and even throws in the phrase: “I hated my life before cancer.” Public pity and attention pay for the loneliness that destroys her from the inside. Although the sacrifice she makes is quite expensive.
Therefore, the main pivot of the plot will not turn on an external charity, but an internal, barely noticeable war within herself. The plot is deep, philosophical, but the directors don’t get it to the end. Although how could it be completed? Perhaps a real diagnosis of cancer in the story. You become what you want to be. Then a general revealing, not through her father’s Facebook post, but recognition on television and further pressure from society. The plot’s concept – a week to prove the lie – is impressive. An excellent start for the events that follow. But then the plot seems sluggish and lacks momentum. And if Katie had told the truth in general recognition, it would have been possible to trace how her personality changes under different pressure factors. The first – a time frame – only a week, and the second – general humiliation and remorse for the public. But the worst thing is that there is little that remains behind her invented images. There is no personality, only illusion instead of reality.
Kacey Rohl performs the main role in the film. Previously, the actress starred in “Red Riding Hood” and “The X-Files”. However, this is the first time she has taken the role of the protagonist. Her girlfriend, Jen, is played by Amber Anderson, an equally beautiful actress who played in “Emma” and in episodes of “Black Mirror”. Katy’s father, Doug Arneson, is played by Martin Donovan, also known for his role as Victor in the new “Tenet” and the scandalous mini-series “Big Little Lies”. There he played Martin Howard. As you can see, the cast not so bad. The plot is captivating. What, then, prevents it from climbing above seven in the ratings?
Photos: Shutterstock / Photomontage: Martina Advaney
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