Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Movie Review: White Lie

White Lie **** / *****
Directed by: Yonah Lewis & Calvin Thomas.
Written by: Yonah Lewis & Calvin Thomas.
Starring: Kacey Rohl (Katie Arneson), Amber Anderson (Jennifer Ellis), Martin Donovan (Doug Arneson), Thomas Olajide (Jabari Jordan), Connor Jessup (Owen), Sharon Lewis (Colette), Christine Horne (Julia Stansfield), Darrin Baker (Dr. Becker), Zahra Bentham (Kadisha), Shanice Banton (Veronica), Spencer Glassman (Amy).

Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas have crafted a thriller about the most unlikely of subject – a young, college student named Katie (brilliantly played by Kacey Rohl) who has lied and told everyone she has cancer – has shaved her head to make it realistic – but now sees the walls closing in around her, as her lies start to compound, and become harder and harder to keep going. No one questions the girl who has cancer – unless of course you are applying to some endowments for people with cancer, and need to actually prove you have it. Or, if you tried the same thing in high school – and your exasperated father has had enough of the lies. It’s even worse when you have run multiple Go Fund Me campaigns to help you – or even worse, under the guise of helping different charities, and kept the money for yourself. Sooner or later, it was all bound to crash down around Katie – and the film follows her in those days when it starts to unravel, and she has to take increasingly desperate measures to keep the lie going.

There have been various real-life example of people doing this – and you always end up asking yourself why – why would someone do this? Are they some kind of psychopath? Did they really expect to get away with it? In this case anyway, Katie is not a psychopath – she is clearly ill, just not in the way she says she is. We don’t delve into the psychology around her – she is too busy trying to keep the lie going – but the answer to the second question really does seem to be yes – she thought she would get away with it. We get hints of the why – her mother died while she was in high school, and she was hurt and seeking attention. Her father, Doug (Martin Donovan) is distant to say the least – fed up with his daughters lies. She is basically on her own – at McMaster University in Hamilton. She has a girlfriend, Jennifer (Amber Anderson) – whose entire family has embraced her. She has a support system – including those at the university, who want to help her get the financial assistance she needs. All she has to do is provide her medical records.

And that, in a nutshell, is what begins the movie. She has a drug dealer – Owen (Connor Jessup) – who knows the lie, but as long as she pays, he’ll won’t tell anyone. He hooks her up with Jabari Jordan (Thomas Olajide) – a medical intern who can fake those records for her – again, as long as he pays. The film has the tension of a thriller as she goes to Jordan for the records, having to dodge invasive questions from medical staff, and keep the grift going. As she manipulates money out of Jennifer – or other friends – to keep the payments coming. As she visits her father for more money – who flatly rejects her, telling her point blank that he doesn’t believe her. Things get worse when he posts on Facebook a long post about how she is lying. She continually has to come up with more lies to cover up her previous lies.

The movie ends before it has all crashed down around her – but that crash is inevitable. Too many people know, too many people have started to mistrust her. She has not quite confessed – but come close to confessing to multiple people. And yet, she still hopes that people will be there for her – will support her. She’s sick after all.

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