A Little White Lie (2023) is a chipper take on a comedy tragedy, involving an ethically challenged drunk who decides to infiltrate a writer’s festival under the guise of a former best-selling author. Shriver (Michael Shannon), the “normal” man, sinks deeper into his lie as the ambiguous wordsmith as he navigates the high hopes of the university staff; those who are counting on him to bring creative life back to their campus. The story may be hard to watch – knowing the lies that cover like a deluge – but Shriver’s misplaced intentions might be exactly what's needed for this group of hopeless artists.
Shannon: Micheal Shannon tends to explode in these concentrated narratives films; think Nocturnal Animals, 99 Homes, and The Shape of Water. Shannon’s big-time presence in a small story like the one in A Little White Lie brings an element of hilarity and hyperbolic character personalities. The Oscar-nominated actor can sometimes out-perform his character, Shriver, a man that exudes inefficient confidence in every aspect of life. Shannon lifts the lying, desperate protagonist off the screen at times.
A Bit Surprising: A Little White Lie is nothing groundbreaking, however, writer-director Michael Maren’s story demands attention and jostles the emotions of the viewer. Maren and Shannon work incredibly together as they build up a character, who we should hate, but instead, we buy into his pitiful story and attempt to grasp some sense of community. It is a redemption arc that has few comparisons. From beginning to end, despite the absolute ridiculousness of the story, A Little White Lie produces an entertaining tale.
Substance Over Style: For as strong of a story and acting as Maren’s film possess, it does suffer in most of the finer production elements. Costume design, set design, score, and cinematography lack inspired direction and substance. Luckily, the themes and messages of A Little White Lie don't get lost among those details; which is not always the case. Maren’s script, and Shannon’s performance, outshine the inadequacies of lacking production quality.
A Little White Lie shocks as a transformational tale of a man looking for appreciation through a path of deception. Michael Shannon shines bright in this redeeming and funny yarn.
Watch A Little White Lie Now