A Little White Lie: Is the Movie Inspired by a True Story?

‘A Little White Lie’ is a comedy film helmed by Michael Maren, revolving around a man who assumes the identity of a renowned writer named Shriver. A literary festival is keen to invite the author who never made a public appearance after publishing his critically acclaimed book. The invitation reaches a man who shares his name, and he doesn’t let the opportunity slip from his hands. Even though he’s never read a book, everyone welcomes the pseudo-author with utmost enthusiasm, who even sparks a romance with a lovely English professor.

However, the real Shriver arrives on the scene and tries to expose the impostor. The movie is a hilarious feat of a clueless man who fools most people into believing he’s a literary juggernaut until his cover is blown. If you adored ‘A Little White Lie’ and are curious to know if a clever real-life impostor inspires it, here’s all you need to know!

A Little White Lie is Based on Chris Belden’s Novel

No, ‘A Little White Lie’ is not based on a true story. The film is an adaptation of Chris Belden’s novel, ‘Shriver,’ with the screenplay written by Michael Maren. The pseudo-author is a classic example of identity theft who experiences imposter syndrome. Although, it’s entirely valid to feel so this time because he’s pretty literally faking to be someone else.

Identity theft is a common crime that many commit across the world. There are several reported cases of extreme identity theft, and despite the film presenting the phenomena lightheartedly, it is a heinous crime. In addition, ‘A Little White Lie’ touches upon the theme of imposter syndrome (arguably justified in fake Shriver’s case) that many individuals experience despite fully qualifying for the job or position they’re selected for.

In simple words, it’s an exaggerated sense of doubt about one’s achievements, a lingering thought that everyone knows more and they’re simply undeserving. As per studies, imposter syndrome is experienced by 70% of people at some point in their life, and it’s far more common amongst highly capable perfectionists. Even our generation’s greatest minds and creatives have claimed they felt self-doubt at some point, including Albert Einstein.

Director Michael Maren addressed the theme in an interview with Redlands Daily Facts. He said, “What interested me was the idea of imposter syndrome and the degree to which a human being can divorce themselves from what they put on the page. For someone like Shriver, once you separate, it can be hard to bring it all back together. I knew I wanted to ground it in reality and even ran an early script by a psychiatrist friend because I wanted to make it somewhat feasible.”

Maren further admitted to changing certain aspects of the book. The director commented, “There’s a dark humor to it, and I love the character of Shriver. But in the book, all the other characters are over-the-top caricatures. T. Wasserman was called “T. Watchamacallit,” and Simone’s last name was “Cleverly,” so that’s where I deviated tremendously. The book also piles on – the smell of paper makes Shriver nauseous. I did not want to make an absurd movie. ”

In another interview, he spoke about how the book was relatable as a writer, filmmaker, and journalist. The idea of accomplishing something or reaching a milestone and then completely detaching oneself from it was intriguing to Michael. To reiterate, the movie is based on a fictional story but portrays fundamental themes of identity theft and imposter syndrome through a lens of dark humor and makes you question intangible concepts like capability and identity.

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