White Lie is a Shakespearian tragedy spreading from a cancerous protagonist
Tension has become a difficult vibe to pin down in 2020. Each day is somewhere more tense than the last, as an invisible virus becomes exponentially more dangerous/murderous, seemingly at random, to the people we know and love. Amid a (pre?)-apocalyptic world, how do you ratchet up a sensation of soul-crushing dread that could eclipse the soul-crushing dread we’re already bathing within?
Welp, a sure-fire way to pull off the seemingly impossible stress-nightmare of interpersonal drama on the micro-level, amid macro-meltdowns, is to tap into the greatest human fear of all: getting caught in a lie.
White Lie focuses on the all too real moment of sheer existential panic when you’ve been called on your bullshit. Woefully, and beautifully, it manages to keep reliving this skeletal horror repeatedly, until it has ground you into dust. A true achievement.
The feature (written and directed by Toronto-based Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis) is a perfect match to the indie-thriller format—a small, nail-biting tragedy sold through powerful performances.
Kacey Rohl (Arrow, Hannibal) plays a girl with terminal cancer. As we open, she’s starting a GoFundMe fundraiser for her final major treatment, and is beloved by the school and the community around her. One problem: she’s faking it. What clearly began as a low-level need for attention has already spiraled into an existence of committing fraud, and the world is already beginning to pull at the loose threads. What follows is a near Uncut Gems level of tension, as every other minute brings a new wrinkle into our hero(?) and her story. Repeatedly, she’s faced with seemingly unbeatable situations, only to worm through in the least expected manner. Every tenth twist also brings with it the opportunity for redemption; for a way out. Instead, our protagonist repeatedly doubles down on the easy(?) way through.
The 90-minute panic attack is aided further by one of the most stressful soundtracks I’ve heard this year. Lev Lewis’ score sounds like the film Whiplash, but if all the jazz musicians were in different rooms, and some didn’t know that recording had begun; just a haunted layer of chaos.
This distinctly Canadian thriller is one of late 2020’s most rewarding games of cat and mouse, and comes highly recommended.
White Lie is available for pre-order now, and will be released on January 5, 2021 on DirecTV, Amazon, InDemand, iTunes, FlixFling, AT&T, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu, Fandango & Google Play.