Review: ‘Little White Lie’ ignites emotional family drama over identity


Reared as a “nice Jewish girl,” filmmaker Lacey Schwartz had harbored doubts about her identity since high school. She finally pressed her parents for answers and has captured her discovery with the documentary “Little White Lie.”

As a child growing up in white-bread Woodstock, N.Y., Schwartz always felt different because of her olive complexion and curly hair. It must be because her great-grandfather was Sicilian, or so people thought. She had no reason to suspect otherwise until she first came in contact with other students of color in high school. Then things began to click in her mind despite her family’s persistent denial.

This potent family drama ignites emotional fireworks, recalling the best bits of Mike Leigh’s “Secrets & Lies.” Kudos to Schwartz’s folks, Peggy and Robert, for allowing a camera to be present during their most private and vulnerable moments, and for not patronizing the filmmaker’s pet project and her quest for truth.


Schwartz’s first-person narrative proves moving. But given that the film is barely an hour long, one can’t help but feel that parts could have been developed more — perhaps a deeper exploration of her gravitation toward one identity over another.


“Little White Lie.”

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 6 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.