What is the cost of a simple lie? The answer to this won’t be solved until the repercussions run their course. The minimum is the loss of trust of those we respect, disrespect, love, or even hate. That alone can make someone want to never lie. After that, the cost can be staggering and life-altering. But what happens when somebody’s whole being is a lie? White Lie effectively takes this idea and enthralls the viewer on a 96-minute bender of anxiety and disgust.
White Lie is about a dance major student, Katie (Kacey Rohl) who is faking cancer to make money so she can afford her college education. Although the plot is simple Katie’s trajectory is far from it. We see her in the middle of her lie and her sequential downfall. At the beginning of the movie, we see her as a campus celebrity. Katie was a symbol of resilience and strength. And when the movie is over Katie is a pariah with those she loves. As the movie progresses it’s predictable to see how the movie ebbs and flows. But with that said, by no means does it detract from the film. It is still gut-wrenching and painful to watch in the best way possible.
Katie has a strong relationship with her girlfriend and a circle of friends that support her endlessly. The dramatic irony of seeing these relationships, but knowing it is built on a foundation of deceit is painful, to say the least. We see a good amount of Katie with her girlfriend, Jennifer (Amber Anderson), and at face value, it’s as sincere as any healthy relationship is. Knowing that their relationship is far from sincere is what makes this movie as devastating as it is. We see her friendships crumble before her, and our, very eyes. This downfall is relentless on the viewer and leaves you feeling empty.
A movie that tackles this level of moral ambiguity is easy to make the protagonist dislikeable. Somehow, someway, Rohl makes Katie human with an outstanding performance. I didn’t want Katie to lose herself, but faking cancer to tug at people’s empathy is a horrible thing to do. Katie’s moral escalation is aggressive and the end is nowhere to be found. Overall, Rohl on screen is a marvel and shouldn’t be missed. Although the movie is hard to watch, it’s a testament to strong character performances and effective writing on all facets.
In the case of this movie, intent is the driver to Katie’s decision making. Inherently she isn’t an evil person – her past makes her who she is. When we learn that she began lying about her health as a means to cope after a major loss, you wanted to empathize with her. She isolated and coped with her loss on her own terms. Even though it wasn’t the healthiest route, this enables her to use this method in whatever way she saw fit. Staggering college tuition is a universal obstacle to those wanting a higher education. Now that Katie knew her lie worked, naturally she could repurpose it. She knew what she was doing was wrong, but the alternative was to not follow her dream.
With this premise, I only thought it would end one way. I assume the movie would end where she learned her lesson and began rebuilding herself. That didn’t end up happening, but through my misconception, the ending was perfect nonetheless. The final shot is devastating and leaves a huge mark on the viewer. Katie may have had money, and a budding education, but in the end, it cost her her humanity.
White Lie is an extremely complex movie with an equally complex protagonist. When this movie is widely available I will definitely be revisiting this. It would be a disservice to yourself if you skipped this movie. Although this movie takes place in Canada the painful question it asks is something that can be felt all over the world. Should we forfeit our morals for the sake of our livelihood? – Jacob Mauceri
White Lie is available now for pre-order on VOD and will be released on January 5th, 2021.