TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘White Lie’

TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘White Lie’

Kacey Rohl plays Katie Arneson, a Hamilton area dance major who is brazenly faking a cancer diagnosis. The audience knows this, and Toronto filmmakers Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis know this as well. It’s up to the directors now to unravel when the whole world will discover her fake disease. It’s also up to Rohl to decide how good Katie is at performing manifestations of her debilitating sickness. She wisely decides that Katie’s not good at it, which makes other characters’ perspectives interesting.

The divide between what we know in opposition to these characters is White Lie‘s biggest flaw. It’s a flaw that the film tries to mitigate, eventually making one domino fall after another. The directors close up on many characters in innocuous scenes and show their indifference towards her. The last of those dominoes, however, is Katie’s gullible and very rich girlfriend, Jennifer Ellis (Amber Anderson). Most people can be gullible, but the erratic manifestation of that quality on her wasn’t really believable.

But what saves this film is the polish that the directors add to the story they’re telling. They apply a subtle hand in these scenes, especially during the ones where characters discover Katie’s lies. Katie lies to a few black women about her diagnosis, which turns out disastrously for her. I’ve only liked one of these directors’ previous works, but here, they present an unsympathetic character. Putting her as the focal point of a watchable, tense film is a gamble that pays off.

For more information about White Lie go to https://www.tiff.net/events/white-lie.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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