Vacations invariably lose something in the telling. That's especially so for "Little White Lies," which gathers some of France's best-known actors for the laughter-and-tears story of a group holiday. With an ensemble led by Marion Cotillard and François Cluzet, the French hit has personality to burn, and squanders most of it.
Writer-director Guillaume Canet's episodic mix of heavy-handed drama, broad comedy and "fun stuff you do by the sea," as one character describes the getaway, has its effective moments but overstays its welcome by a long shot.
Aiming for coming-of-middle-age resonance, the starry soap concerns a Parisian clique's annual summer sojourn in the coastal resort of Cap Ferret. They're the usual movie-colorful mix of professionals, from actor to anthropologist, and are facing various romantic/existential crises.
The group's most intriguing member — played by Jean Dujardin in a variation on his pre-"Artist" bad-boy mode — spends most of the film offscreen, in intensive care after an accident. At its most obvious, the "Big Chill"-esque brush with mortality becomes mawkishly indulgent. Mainly, though, it's gratuitous, barely grazing the self-absorbed vacationers.