“The WORST thing you can do is to slip in ‘little’ white lies just to save yourself from confrontations & emotional conversations.
⁃ Sijdah Hussain
In “White Lie” Katie Arneson is a university student who tries hard to keep her cancer diagnosis a secret. The fact that it is not true and there is no cancer is what Katie is hiding.
What a cruel and unforgivable sin it is to commit in the face of so many people who are living with cancer, and those who have lost loved ones to it.
Katie has been lying about this for quite some time. She is the kind of character who lies with ease and uses them to get out of any jam, big or small.
Through her lies, Katie can garner sympathy or merely get out of something that she does not wish to do. The big lies and the little ones become one and the same.
The lie Katie has created regarding the non-existent cancer has gotten bigger and is now about to spin out of control and collapse, as a cancer foundation asks for proof of her sickness by obtaining Katie’s medical records.
A particularly good Martin Donovan plays Katie’s father. He refuses to lend her $2,000 for an experimental treatment (that she doesn’t even need). He knows his daughter is lying and it breaks him down inside. Donovan gives one of his better performances here, looking weary and almost defeated by the actions of his daughter.
Amber Anderson plays Katie’s girlfriend Jennifer. Her patience is almost unbelievable even as Katie’s lies of all levels are destroying the goodwill between them.
Kacey Rohl is fantastic in the role of Katie. The character has trapped herself in a prison of lies that is spiraling out of control. Rohl does not set out to make the audience dislike Katie, nor do the filmmakers. Her performance is smart and believable and Rohl takes chances with it.
The audience watches Katie shave her head, bribe doctors, and accept the public’s kindness and sympathies yet the film refuses to make her a villain.
We are not sure why Katie is trying to pull off this giant and dangerously illegal fraud. There is some plan about wanting to go to Seattle (the film is set in Ontario) but we never know the deeper reason for it.
Perhaps writer/directors Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis are trying to say that Katie is so entrenched in her lie that maybe she has convinced herself the cancer is real. At this point for Katie there is no turning back.
At times, the filmmakers craft their piece in the style of a thriller. Christopher Lew’s camerawork gives a kinetic visual pace to the film as the fraud begins to unravel. It is a smart stroke that keeps their film unique.
“White Lie” finds a humanity to Katie, showing us a woman who has fallen prey to her own self-deception.
Is she a bad person? The film points no fingers. Every single one of us has told some type of lie. Some are harmful. Some are trivial. Who are we to judge?