When thinking about a white lie’s description, it is supposed to be a harmless statement not to hurt someone’s feelings. Something reassuring like, “No, the turkey wasn’t dry,” when it was, you don’t want to hurt them when they spent all this time cooking a meal for you. Although the film is called White Lie, it is a far cry from being harmless. It is full of self-destruction and emotional turmoil. Through TriCost Entertainment and Rock Salt Releasing, Nerds and Beyond was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to screen this film for review.
There will be spoilers beyond this point.
It opens with viewers seeing a young woman in the bathroom, shaving her head before going to a university campus. Once there, she passes a poster with her face on it that says, “Fight for Katie.” She stops at the table in front of it, hugging and posing for a few photos. After her dance class, another student gives her an envelope with money in it to help. In the guidance counselor’s office, she is told that they still need a copy of her medical records for her bursary application to be finalized. Katie (Kacey Rohl) says that she will call them and ask for it to be sent again, but she seems uncomfortable at the simple request. From there, what is shown about Katie Arneson’s situation spirals out of control and presents a troubled character buried in a dark secret of her own doing.
On the surface, Katie appears to be a dance major university student going through cancer treatments. She is in a committed and loving relationship with her girlfriend Jennifer (Amber Anderson). Not much is known about her family background except that she is not close to her father, and her mother committed suicide when Katie was in high school. The fundraising being done in her name is to raise money so she can be part of a clinical trial. But the thing is … it is all a LIE!
Katie does not have cancer. That’s right, let the detestable lie sink in. She is lying about having cancer and chemo treatments. With the help of a guy who works in a medical lab, she gets medication that simulates being ill and causes her to lose weight, and he connects her with someone who gives her fabricated medical records to support her “health struggles.” Through all this, her girlfriend is supportive and loving, even giving her money at one point to help her. It isn’t until she reluctantly sees her father for financial help that we learn a bit more. He tells her that he won’t help her and calls her out for lying about being sick. She gets defensive, but he interrupts, stating she has done this before and will expose her and the lies. Apparently, when her mother died, Katie fabricated being sick so she did not have to go to school and could deal with losing her mother.
The film’s narrative is from Katie’s point of view, so we are shown the limits she goes to play the victim card by creating further lies to bring a question to her father’s character once he does expose her through social media. But with Katie manipulating every situation she is in, it also makes her out as the villain of her own story. Generally, with watching character-focused movies, there tends to be character growth. Unfortunately, Katie’s development is in the wrong direction.
As a whole, while the movie infuriated me, I did enjoy it. There were a few things that I would have liked more context on, including Katie’s complex personality and the thought process that brought her to when viewers are introduced to her at an unknown amount of time into the lie. Even seeing it in a brief flashback would have been helpful. The film also showcases online funding and the uncertainty and risks that come with sending your money. There have been actual cases where people were funding money under false pretenses, so touching on that and the use of social media to expose her was valid and current.
White Lie was written and directed by Yonah Lewis (Spice It Up), and Calvin Thomas (The Oxbow Cure), the music aesthetic with the guitar, piano, and cello was by Lev Lewis (The Intestine). It stars Kacey Rohl (The Magicians), Amber Anderson (Black Mirror), Connor Jessup (Locke & Key), Martin Donovan (Nancy Drew), Thomas Olajide (Inhuman Condition), Christine Horne (Lost Girl), Darrin Baker (Code 8), and more.
White Lie will be available through digital platforms in January 2021. But you can watch the trailer now below!