The Truth: The BRWC Review
Beloved Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda has molded a compelling career crafting intimate portraits of familial bonds, with 2018’s Shoplifters highlighting his immense abilities in one of his best projects to date (won the Palm d’Or at Cannes). Kore-eda’s latest The Truth marks a new page for the writer/director, constructing his first French-English feature to date with an all-star cast. While the film may not rank as one of the visionary’s most assured works, The Truth still highlights Kore-eda’s alluring, easy-going nature.
The Truth follows Lumir (Juliette Binoche), a screenwriter traveling home to reconnect with her French mother Fabienne Dangeville (Catherine Deneuve), an acclaimed actress in the twilight of her career. Fresh off the release of Fabienne’s personal memoir and in the midst of a new film project, the pair confront their disconnected dynamic in search of common ground in their fragile relationship.
Kore-eda’s portrait of familial detachment renders finite moments of sheer authenticity, avoiding melodramatic diatribes in the pursuit of lived-in dynamics. His meticulous camerawork enhances each personal frame, with his seamless use of focus and framing highlighting the character’s complex emotional states. The delicacy that the writer/director imbues his subjects with renders the most impact, allowing his characters to vulnerably air grievances while never over-simplifying their personas.
The Truth’s greatest joy lies in its star-studded cast (Kore-eda cast the three actors he envisioned for the central roles). Catherine Deneuve steals the show throughout, sinking her teeth into Fabienne’s diva status while ringing biting remarks with her acerbic wit. It would have been easy to let the character become a diluted thespian, but Deneuve sympathetically portrays the actress’s ego-driven obsession to her craft with a sense of regret and self-reflection. Juliette Binoche is terrific as always as Lumir, displaying the whirlwind of confronting memories taking hold during her homecoming, while Ethan Hawke and Clementine Grenier present natural charisma as Lumir’s husband and daughter.
There’s an innate warmth that rings true throughout The Truth’s run time, but its dramatic core feels relatively slight. This is far from the first feature to display an aging actress confronting her personal demons (Binoche played the role perfectly in Clouds of Sils Maria), with Kore-eda’s script offering little nuance on the dissected subject. The inclusion of Fabienne’s acting job as an allusion to her fragile mother-daughter bond with Lumir ends up being too pronounced to have a sizable impact, leaving certain subplots unexplored in the process (the relationship between Lumir and Hawke as Hank, a C-list actor with a damaged past).
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s keen eye meshes with a well-matched cast in The Truth, an infectiously pleasant venture that brings life to its familiar ruminations on family bonds.
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