Review by Dan Skip Allen
I am a big fan of films about or featuring authors. Adaptation, Barton Fink, Wonder Boys, and Misery are among my favorites. This small genre of film usually brings me a smile at the end of whatever film I'm watching thanks to their often whimsical nature. I didn't have any expectations, but A Little White Lie is another such film that brought me some delight.
A lonely man, CR Shriver (Michael Shannon), who drinks his sorrows away with his buddy Lenny (Mark Boone Junior) at their local watering hole in New York City, gets a letter in the mail asking him to appear at a Literary Festival at Acheron University. He is mistaken for a popular author who's been in hiding for twenty years. The 92nd Annual Acheron Literary Festival hopes to feature him and his book Goat Time. He's not the real Shiver, or is he? He ends up going to the festival and tries to pass as this one-hit wonder of an author.
The writer/director, Michael Maren, has assembled a good cast of character actors for this wild zany indie comedy. Simone Clery (Kate Hudson) is a professor and author in her own right. She welcomes Shriver in and befriends him. Don Johnson plays another professor who has a past with Hudson's character. He also believes in Shannon's character. Da'Vine Joy Randolph plays a fan of his he meets on an airplane, and he confides in her, and they also become friends. And Jimmi Simpson is a detective who tries to get to the bottom of a disappearance but helps solve another mystery instead. Everybody is very funny in their roles, and these people I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg.
This film has a good premise. The story about a mistaken author is a pretty funny one for a movie. Shannon and the others go all the way to show viewers that he is who they believe him to be. Mystery abounds about whether this is true or not, and even an imposter comes out of the woodwork saying he's not who they all believe him to be. He himself doesn't believe he wrote his own book, so it's hard for anybody to believe in what's going on. That is what the charm of this little film truly is.
A Little White Lie is a fun movie with an interesting premise of mistaken identity or stealing someone's identity — depending on how one chooses to look at it. Shannon is very believable as this man who doesn't know if he is who these people think he is or not. He goes with it, though, and in doing so finds himself. He makes some new friends from the rest of the cast I mentioned and starts to believe in himself. The writer/director Merin balances a fine line between what is real and not, and how the viewers take his story is up to them.
A Little White Lie hits theaters and VOD on March 3.