If someone had ever told me I’d see a film one day with the brilliant and beautiful Catherine Deneuve and Ethan Hawke together, I probably would have made a very large wager that that would never happen. And yet here we find ourselves with just that film in Director Hirokazu Koreeda‘s “THE TRUTH” – where surprisingly enough this famed Japanese director takes on a French/English film. This film is not what one may expect as trailers leave one to think it’s purely a drama, but it’s mostly a dramedy with the leaning more towards comedy, but you have to be able to catch it and it’s inevitable that some just won’t.
The premise of the plot is that Catherine Deneuve’s character Fabienne Dangeville, wrote an autobiography where she not only disappoints her colleagues, but one is which she seems to embellish her past, specifically, her motherhood as well. Juliette Binoche’s character Lumir, her screenwriter daughter who came in from the U.S. to visit, soon finds about all this as she reads the book of what she feels appears to be a work of fiction. Mind you a work of fiction “based on a true story” according to her mother. She tries to talk Fabienne and seemingly never really gets the answer she’s looking for, but the film begs the question what is “the truth” really? Is it how we remember the past or is it unyielding and unbending?
On top of all this, Deneuve’s character has accepted a role in a movie solely to work with an emerging actress who resembles a now deceased friend of hers. This is a thought-provoking piece of work even if it’s not completely understood at all times. There isn’t much plot development but the character depth is wonderfully exposed. Who was loyal? Who was faithful? There are moments in it where you have a hard time distinguishing between it all. But the acting is as good as one would expect seeing the cast list. Particularly impressive is the bilingual dialogue, especially from Binoche who seems to speak both English and French as a native. Also outstanding is the child actress playing Binoche’s daughter Charlotte (Clementine Grenier).
A point of notice from me – the female characters receive most time and adulation in the movie and I found that wonderful as they are what brings this story to life. Not only Deneuve’s and Binoche’s, but also Manon Clavell’s character of Manon Lenior, the actress who Deneuve works with and has that mysterious allure of her long dead friend, the one we really never find out too much about though she is alluded to throughout the film. All have a central role in the story. Ethan Hawke’s husband character Hank, is the only one that truly feels tossed to the side and frankly irrelevant as he stumbles along with very few lines, and has to rely on a sometimes maybe too exaggerated set of gestures to come across.
With a few tweaks on the dialogue this film could have been a great heart warming comedy with some wonderful dramatic undertones had the time been taken to add the depth it needed – as is – it wanders just a bit to much even with the wonderful acting.
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Review screening link ~ Courtesy of IFC Films
“THE TRUTH” IS NOW AT SELECT DRIVE-IN’S AND ON VOD