There are reasons to quibble about “Little White Lies,” writer-director Guillaume Canet’s coming-of-middle-age dramedy set in lovely seaside France.
For starters: It’s too long, most of the female characters are ill-defined and it’s bogged down by a heavy-handed oldies soundtrack (Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, David Bowie) that saps the story’s emotion.
Nonetheless, with some fine performances, often realistic plot points and gorgeous scenery, the “Big Chill”-like offering manages to be a likeable, good-looking tale about friends coming together on summer vacation — even though one person isn’t there due to a near-fatal motorcycle accident at the film’s outset.
France’s top trendy stars do a nice job in the lead roles. Francois Cluzet plays Max, the rich, slightly older, high-strung owner of the home where the gang hangs out; Benoit Magimel is Vincent, his osteopath and old (married) friend, who confesses his crush on Max.
Gilles Lellouche and Laurent Lafitte are Eric and Antoine, men with romance problems, and Marion Cotillard is Marie, an academic with an active love life.
As Ludo, the reckless partier who is hit by a truck and winds up in the hospital with major injuries, recent “The Artist” Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin has less to do.
Nicely addressing themes in addition to romance — mortality, friendship, honesty and class issues, among them — Canet’s screenplay has enough realism and complexity to keep viewers interested, despite the film’s unnecessary 2½-hour running time.
While not without flaws, “Little White Lies” is an engaging getaway at a South of France beach house with some hot actors, and not a bad way to close out the summer movie season.