Katie is faking it, but that’s hardly a spoiler. In another film that might be the central twist, but it’s printed in bold type right the on the website for White Lie. That title tells the audience precisely what to expect too, but the opening shot – we watch as Kacey Rohl’s Katie razor shaves her head smooth in her bathroom – this young woman’s deceptions aren’t going to be as innocent as that phrase suggests.
This film, written and directed by Canadian duo Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas, is filled to the brim with chattering unease thanks to the queasily certain plot formed in that opening scene. Publicly celebrated for her fight against cancer, Katie races through her days working overtime to maintain her charade, her relationships, and her fundraising, like a melanoma-flavoured Anna Delvey.
Rohl was excellent opposite Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy in Hannibal, of course. The surrogate daughter of Doctor Lector was an uncomfortable role to play, but it was one she navigated deliciously. This film rests entirely upon her performance, which thankfully is more than captivatingly thrilling at points to carry what is otherwise an admittedly thin plot. The antsy, tense camerawork at turns grips her tightly by the shoulders or traps her entirely, surrounded by dark doorways and window frames.
She appears singularly uncomfortable in every setting, unable to rest at a dining table or on a treatment table. Katie has to clothe herself with a thin gown of a sickened and weak young woman, but there’s always a fierce shock ready to burst from her eyes; Rohl brings an awful lot more to the character than the film can possibly fit into its running time.
The thrilling unease of her performance is enhanced by the score and the cinematography. You can almost feel the chill Canadian wind rattling through every exterior shot. This is definitely a film I would have enjoyed at my local arthouse cinema, but has a claustrophobic quality much more suited to the here and now, appropriately enough.
Rock Salt Releasing has released White Lie on various digital streaming platforms on 1/5/2021 (DirecTV, Amazon, InDemand, FlixFling, AT&T, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu, Fandango & Google Play)
Watch on Amazon: White Lie
Note: a preview copy of this film was provided to the site for this review