Max has been spooked by Vincent before they left (he says he loves him!) and this affects the whole holiday, the others wondering why two previously inseparable friends are so distant. Meanwhile, Marie, notionally Ludo's girlfriend, reveals herself to be far from faithful and more than a bit strange at times. Eric, a womaniser, has been ditched by his girlfriend, Léa, after one too many dalliances. And Antoine, who's there to celebrate his birthday, is desperately trying to woo back his girlfriend, Juliette.
So we have a range of personal stories that produce humour and drama in equal measure. We have Max who is not only at odds with Vincent but is also paranoid about a number of things, chiefly the 'weasels' that are invading the walls of the beach house. Marie welcomes yet another new boyfriend, a musician who everybody just adores, which seems paradoxically to upset her.
There's much messing around on Max's boat, and we meet Jean-Louis, a local and a friend of the group. But the fun comes to an abrupt halt when they receive bad news from Paris. And Jean-Louis ends up telling them all some home truths about how they lie to each other, making their lives all a bit of a sham. This is where the film title comes from, Les petits mouchoirs being an idiomatic phrase that is translated as Little White Lies for the English title of the film.
This is a long film at 2hr 34min offering a blend of comedy and drama. The scenery is beautiful and the characters are certainly interesting, although with the exception of Marie this is very much about the men of the group.
Marion Cotillard is well cast as the complex Marie, while François Cluzet is convincing as paranoid Max. While Jean Dujardin has little more than a cameo part as the luckless Ludo in a Paris hospital.