Little White Lies, Guillaume Canet, 154 mins (15)
Red Riding Hood, Catherine Harwicke, 100 mins (12A)

Oh, Grandmother, what blunt and pathetic teeth you have!

It can be tricky when you're watching a French film to concentrate on the story and not be distracted by the fabulous lifestyles. And it's bad enough when the characters are quaffing wine at Parisian dinner parties.

In Little White Lies, we have to put up with a group of friends, including Marion Cotillard and François Cluzet, who go on holiday to Cap Ferret, staying in a beachfront house which Cluzet owns.

It's true that one of their number is in intensive care following a scooter accident, so they're cutting short their stay from a month to a fortnight, the poor things. And it's true that one of the married men in the group has just confessed his love for another of them. But still, these people are hardly suffering. Take into account the two-and-a-half hour running time, and Little White Lies sometimes threatens to reach almost Raymond Blanc levels of Gallic smugness.

If you can get past that, though, you can enjoy one of those rare films that's interested in ordinary people with everyday concerns. Guillaume Canet, who had a crossover hit with Tell No One, has written and directed a humane comedy-drama that's reminiscent of vintage Woody Allen, a more glamorous Mike Leigh or, most obviously, The Big Chill.

The characters cover just about every imaginable relationship problem, and yet their dilemmas and insecurities bubble to the surface at a natural, unforced rate – hence the running time – and the crises are offset by the wry humour. Much of this comedy springs from the questions of who's doing the grocery shopping and what the day's activities are going to be, subjects that will ring bells with anyone who's ever gone away with their friends.

The endless country-rock songs start to grate after a while, but at a time when the old-friends-hanging-out sub-genre has sunk to the twin nadirs of Couples Retreat and Grown-Ups, Little White Lies is almost as much of a pleasure to watch as it must have been to make.

From Little White Lies to Red Riding Hood – although the total irrelevance of the eponymous scarlet apparel is just one indication that this horror-tinged teen romance hasn't been very well thought through: even the fairy tale's pivotal what-big-teeth-you-have scene is thrown away in a dream sequence. Instead of a classic fable, Red Riding Hood is a sexless, scareless whodunnit set in a medieval-ish village. Gary Oldman is a monster-hunting priest who's investigating which of the main characters turns into a computer-generated wolf every full moon, but the audience doesn't know enough about any of them to care either way.

The film is aimed squarely at Twilight fans. It's directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who made the first and best Twilight movie, and it's no stretch for her, given that its heroine (Amanda Seyfried, inset below) is being fought over by two chiselled boys (Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons), one of whom may or may not be a werewolf. But Twilight-aholics shouldn't be taken in. The mystery plot doesn't leave room for the love story, and Fernandez and Irons are less convincing than the CGI wolf. Besides, Hardwicke's key idea in filming Twilight was to contrast its supernatural silliness with an authentically grungy setting, whereas here she's gone in the opposite direction: the village in Red Riding Hood has all the eerie forest atmosphere of a theme park dedicated to the Smurfs. The leading men may be wooden, but the ubiquitous log cabins look plastic.

Next Week:

Nicholas Barber sees Russell Brand playing to type as a dissolute playboy in the Arthur remake

Also Showing: 17/04/2011

The Last Picture Show, (126 mins, 15)

Peter Bogdanovich's tragicomedy is one of the all-time great films about being stuck in a small town. Reissued to mark its 40th anniversary, it stars Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd as teenagers in the pre-rock'n'roll early-1950s – and after you've heard the soundtrack's umpteenth country 'n' western yodel, you'll appreciate why Elvis had such an impact. But the masterstroke of this moving, continually witty film is that the adults are just as lost and lonely as their offspring.

Your Highness (102 mins, 15)

Danny McBride, James Franco and Natalie Portman star in a puerile swords'n'sorcery comedy which takes a standard Tolkienesque adventure and slops in lots of swearing, homophobia and misogyny. I laughed a few times, I admit.

Winnie the Pooh (74 mins, U)

This gentle Disney cartoon stays reasonably true to the spirit of A A Milne and E H Shepard, but it's utterly forgettable. Shave off the two short cartoons that precede it, and you're left with tuneless songs and meandering story.

Sparrow (87 mins, 15)

Playfully noirish Hong Kong crime caper about a gang of pickpockets being bamboozled by a femme fatale. A treat.

A Small Act (88 mins, 12A)

Inspirational, if not exactly cinematic documentary about a Kenyan educational foundation.

Scream 4 (111 mins, 15)

Wes Craven revives his Postmodern slasher franchise. The press screening was cancelled due to "a fire in the projection booth".

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?