American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The opening of "Little White Lies" resonates more strongly because Jean Dujardin won a best actor Oscar for "The Artist" after this film was made and delighted so many people. He plays a very different character here, Ludo, a party animal who circulates through clubs, inhales cocaine, leaves on his motor scooter, enters an intersection and — WHAM! — is hit by a truck.
Ludo is a popular member of a tightly knit circle of friends, who gather at his bedside. At their center is Max (Francois Cluzet), who owns a successful restaurant in Paris. Every August, these friends gather ritualistically at Max's beach home at Cap Ferrat. They discuss whether they should cancel their plans because of Ludo's critical condition and decide not to. After all, he's in a coma, and the annual summer holiday is importantly embedded in French life.
Most of Guillaume Canet's "Little White Lies" takes place at the beach, as we grow familiar with the interlocking loves and jealousies, infidelities and compromises of these fortysomethings who tap-dance around many things left unsaid. The American film that comes to mind is "The Big Chill." The tone of the holiday is cheerful, because nobody dwells on Ludo, who is said to be recovering, but there are undertones of Max's congenital anger.