What lengths would you go to to be popular and famous?
The opening scene of this indie film White Lie sets the tone for the rest of the film. It shows the protagonist Katherine Arneson shaving her head. Bald like Sinead O'Connor, or a cancer victim. But the serious premise is that she is faking her illness. The title is a misnomer: it's not a little harmless white lie, it is noir and not a singular lie but a series of them. In fact, it's an intricate con. Scottish author Sir Walter Scott put it best: "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive."
It is set in Ontario in Canada and Katie, the "local hero", is a uni student who lives in a dump of a flat in a grimy industrial area. She is majoring in dance and has applied for a bursary for sick students. Her ruse unravels when she is asked for her medical records to support her application. She is also asking for money in person and online with her "Fight for Katie" and "Help Katie Get Better" Facebook pages and fundraiser for (allegedly) charity. And social media makes it simple for her to rip off friends, charities and strangers.
The film is carried by excellent Canadian actress Kacey Rohl as Katie. She is ably supported by English actress Amber Anderson as Jennifer Ellis, who is her partner. Her dad Kevin, played by Martin Donovan, is the only one who doesn't believe that she has cancer. She is manipulative, can cry on demand and a consummate liar. The lies come easily to her - shockingly easily. She has shady encounters with other dishonest people like drug dealers, forgers and criminal medical staff. And the fraudulent deception grows as the audience watches her dig herself deeper into the scam. Will she get away with it?