Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis direct the hell out of a dicey premise in White Lie, one of the best acquisition titles screening at TIFF19.
College girl pretending to have cancer to raise money for… something, is an incredibly dicey, tense premise which Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis direct the hell out of. They throw the audience straight into this morally dubious scenario. Star Kacey Rohl’s meek persona plays perfectly into the film’s game of figuring out her motivation for this scheme, as she falls deeper and deeper into her lies. Somewhere down the line, she must have good intentions, right?
But Rohl’s straight faced performance almost blocks real access to the character even as the script twists and turns. Is she just an entitled millennial? A sociopath? After a point though, Thomas and Lewis have given the viewer so few breadcrumbs that this failure to understand motivation turns into a lack of empathy. As they take the audience piece by piece through the ruse, it’s impossible not to think of Breaking Bad with its meticulous study of duplicity. A steady, smooth camera shows sanitised middle-class lives, and the implicit guilt which Rohl takes advantage of. The clinical cinematography almost operates like The Terminator’s viewfinder. It’s chilling filmmaking, with suspenseful tones on the piano soundtrack and an unending nasty feeling to the whole affair.
Still seeking distribution in the US and UK