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TIFF 2019 Film Review: “White Lie” (2019) ★★★


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What does someone need to go through to fake a sickness? To be fair, not just the most basic one but cancer? Every person has his own reason to withhold the truth from people and exaggerate things to a scale that can send anyone into a state of confusion. However, the heroine of “White Lie” does much more than that with reasons that cannot exonerate her from the fact that what she has done is pure crime.

Katie Arneson (Kacey Rohl) becomes a celebrity on campus after a cancer diagnosis. Hiding from everyone her perfect health condition, she manages to earn enough through her fundraiser website. She has a caring and loving girlfriend, Jennifer Ellis (Amber Anderson), who could not be more supportive than she already is. Seemingly, everything in Katie’s life is good enough to go on without the lie, however, she chooses another path, putting not only her father in a difficult position but others as well who are near her.

It’s hard to understand Katie’s motives in pretending that she has metastatic melanoma. Her friend, Owen (Connor Jessup), finds her a doctor Jabari Jordan (Thomas Olajide) to fake her medical file in order to provide it to the campus, however, despite being able to obtain the needed medical record with all the important information in it that would support her lie, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain it as her overall physical condition does not go bad as it is expected for someone who is undergoing chemotherapy. Things become increasingly difficult for her when her father (Martin Donvan) threatens to expose his own daughter if she doesn’t stop cheating.

Written and directed by Jonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas, “White Lie” captures the reality of the world that can be easily manipulated when all the necessary tools are available for that. In the case of Katie, it’s through social networks, fundraising websites that blindly support or believe people can put anything online. All those facts are unverifiable and unproven, however, nobody really cares as long as it is a real person claiming that whatever facts are being presented is true. The film itself tries to justify Katie and victimizes her. But in reality, make no mistake – she is not a victim.

The film would not be as effective as it was if not for the believable performances delivered by Kacey Rohl and Amber Anderson. Both find themselves drowning into an emotional tsunami only great swimmers find a way to survive. And when that event finally happens, it becomes absolutely fun to watch both actresses delivering the best they can through their portrayal of two important characters where you will sympathize with one and feel bad for another.

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