“The White Lotus” versus “Without filter”: two weights, two measures – Les Inrocks

“The White Lotus” and “Without Filter” address the same themes (the egocentrism of rich people, relationships of domination), yet these two works are radically different. And not only by their format.

We must first operate a little mourning by discovering the second season of The White Lotus : that of all the characters of the wonderful first season of Mike White’s series. We find Jennifer Coolidge, heady blonde close to a sexagenarian Anita Ekberg in her tasty role of infantile and egocentric billionaire, but we have to give up all our favorite characters: Murray Bartlett as a dissolute manager, Connie Britton as a super workaholic executive, Sydney Sweeney as a teenage bourgeois hyper woke…

We recognize everything in season 2 – the suspense relating to the identity of one or more victims of a murder, the construction in flashbacks, the social satire enshrining the lives of the users of the palaces and those who serve them… Except the essential: the characters, these imaginary friends that Mike White had given us.

After the inconvenience of this clean slate, it must be said that little by little the charm is recomposed and that we slowly fall in love with this new panel of rich and less rich, masters and valets, Americans on vacation and Sicilians at work. And we measure that it is finally less the characters themselves who had attached us to season 1 than a certain quality of look at them, a real talent for psychological nuance, a fine diplomacy in the art of household mockery and empathy, social criticism of each and identification with all.

Similar themes

To tell the truth, it is above all a reason external to Mike White’s series that makes us love it unconditionally: the confrontation with a film which in principle has everything to do with The White Lotus, but is ultimately the absolute opposite, Without filter by Ruben Ostlund. We find in the Palme d’Or 2022 many of the components of the series: the isolation of wealthy and powerful characters in a vacation situation, the satirical description of their authoritarian egocentrism as well as their hypocritical guilt, the class violence lurking under the commercial servility, all the lines of force that cross the contemporary field (gender issues, sexist, racialized discrimination, etc.) condensed in a boiling crucible…

But with a similar aim, the two works opt for opposite means. Mike White’s series knows how to be fine rather than caricatural, corrosive rather than nihilistic, elegant rather than coarse. And above all, do not consider the playground of fiction as a game of bowling where it is a question of knocking down one by one the characters considered as simple skittles. Beneath its pleasantly sarcastic surface, The White Lotus is a deeply humanist series. It is the ideal remedy for the deregulated and inflammatory misanthropy of Without filter. Because unlike Ruben Östlund’s film, it has a filter. And it’s a love filter.

Editorial originally published in the cinema newsletter of November 16

We wish to give thanks to the writer of this article for this outstanding content

“The White Lotus” versus “Without filter”: two weights, two measures – Les Inrocks