Director: Dana Rotberg
South Pacific Pictures
Here, a Witi Ihimaera novella is stretched to breaking point by a filmmaker who chose to adopt New Zealand as home and workplace after seeing Whale Rider. So we have a bloodless and boring fan-letter as film.
The opening moments suggest something good may come – that’s ruined as soon as Antonia Prebble over-sells snootiness and coldness to make her character so unlikeable that it’s unrealistic and impossible to sympathise. The harrowing moments that arrive late in the piece mean nothing because we’re cold to this movie – it’s laborious and paced for snails, and the ‘reveal’ arrives early, is easily guessed – all but telegraphed from the start – and then there’s simply nothing to hang onto at all.
Well, that’s slightly unfair – John Psathas’ score was lovely as a standalone album and sure is a highlight of the film. In her first acting performance Whirimako Black is wonderful, and Rachel House provides strong work also. Their efforts are undone by Rotberg thinking the world of material that is simply an idea with little meat and only just enough bones. And by Prebble who ruins the film with a drama-student shtick that sees B-grade theatre being presented as if A+ material – but only in the mind of the performer.
With a handful of really great New Zealand films across the last 18 months to two years White Lies is simply boring for the most part. With a few moments of cringe-inducing acting to ruin the sporting chance it probably never even had.