The Truth

****

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve and Ethan Hawke in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Truth (La vérité)
"In less sensitive hands than Kore-eda's, it could have come across as cloyingly introverted but instead there is wit and warmth in the observed relationship between the two women."

Buoyed by the success of Shoplifters at the Cannes Film Festival it was perhaps inevitable that Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda should be tempted by the challenge of making a film in France and in French with two of the country’s most luminous stars, Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche, as mother and daughter.

The study of his favoured topic of family bonds remains to the fore as Deneuve relishes her role as a narcissistic screen legend who says she prefers “to have been a bad mother and a bad friend but a good actress”.

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Deneuve uses her all her reserves in the portrayal, including plenty of self-irony. Binoche ensures she is not over-shadowed by this mighty presence as the screenwriter daughter who finds all manner of childhood resentments bubble to the surface after her mother publishes a no-holds barred memoir.

In less sensitive hands than Kore-eda's, it could have come across as cloyingly introverted but instead there is wit and warmth in the observed relationship between the two women.

In a way, it is an ode to all those French cinema divas - Michèle Morgan, Simone Signoret and Anouk Aimée - come to mind but scrutinised with Japanese insouciance.

The scene is set when Binoche arrives in Paris from New York on a rare visit to her mother, with her American husband (played by Ethan Hawke) and their sophisticated child Charlotte (Clementine Grenier) in tow.The sojourn coincides with the publication of the book which drives Binoche into meltdown with what she perceives as liberties with their far from harmonious relationship in the early years and onward.

It’s all enveloped in a rambling house full of mementoes of a chequered life and shot in muted autumnal tones.

An immensely pleasurable confection, Kore-eda playfully observes Deneuve at the height of her powers, defences down and ready for self-mockery while Binoche equally revels in her under-stated performance, emerging as a perfect foil.

Reviewed on: 24 Mar 2020
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The Truth packshot
A reunion between a French cinema star and her daughter descends into confrontation.

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Writer: Hirokazu Kore-eda, Léa Le Dimna

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Clémentine Grenier, Manon Clavel, Jackie Berroyer, Ludivigne Sagnier.

Year: 2019

Runtime: 106 minutes

Country: France, Japan


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