(Les petits mouchoirs) With a slightly offputting insouciance, Ludo (Jean Dujardin, “The Artist” and both “OSS 117” films) is introduced in a sinuous tracking shot. He exits a club into the summer dawn of Paris and mounts his scooter. In a fistful of frames of shock he is catapulted into the hospital. This is the time of year he usually drives with a circle of friends to sunny Cap Ferret on the Atlantic coast. The vacationers go on, almost as usual, with second thoughts about leaving the heavily sedated Ludo in intensive care. Writer-director Guillaume Canet (“Tell No One”) draws upon his own month-long sojourn in the hospital and past holidays to craft a deeply felt “Little White Lies” from 2010. Lies, small and serious, lace this social comedy of manners among the fortysomething bourgeois. For a bit over two-and-a-half hours, with a generous scoring of pop Americana, a finely cast ensemble negotiates assorted betrayals and breakthroughs. The one minor slip is posing the local oyster-harvester as the truth-teller who must upbraid the Parisians for their class-based self-centeredness. But where else to hear Marion Cotillard’s character, an ethnographer, note: “I recorded thirty-two hours of ceremonial chants in the Amazon” and later savor Nina Simone memorializing “My Way”? Here is how the French get away with living well and even dying well. With François Cluzet, Benoît Magimel, Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Lafitte, Valérie Bonneton, Joel Dupuch. 154m. (Bill Stamets)
“Little White Lies” is playing at Landmark Century.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.