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‘The Truth’ (‘La Vérité’), (review)

Produced by Muriel Merlin
Written and Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche,
Ethan Hawke, Ludivine Sagnier, Clémentine Grenier,
Manon Clavel, Alain Libolt,
Christian Crahay, Roger Van Hool

 

Shoplifters director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s first non-Japanese film stars legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve as an equally renowned French star named Fabienne Dangeville.

It’s a portrait of an actress as a self-centered diva and Deneuve plays the hell out of it.

Like Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd. (or Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2), she’s surrounded by images of her past glory, a neat trick when getting a veteran actor to play an older, vainer version of themselves.

While The Truth doesn’t offer as bitter a take as Billy Wilder’s masterpiece on movies and the people who make them, it is a deliciously choice role for Deneuve.

And Juliette Binoche, as her embittered screenwriting daughter, Lumir, is equally good. She knows her mother’s shortcomings all too well, but is it possible there’s more love and devotion there than she’s realized?

Or is everything an acting exercise for her mother?

Fabienne is not only starring in a new film (which she feels is beneath her), but has written her autobiography. And Lumir, who’s come to visit, is outraged that her mother never ran any of its content past her before publishing it. Especially since Fabienne paints herself as the attentive, loving mother she never was.

Lumir’s husband Hank (a wonderfully mellow Ethan Hawke, who stars as a struggling actor in an online series) knows better than to intervene between mother and daughter. He can’t help but be dazzled by Fabienne since he doesn’t have his wife’s well-placed wariness about her.

Focusing on the lives of the rich and famous is a polar opposite from Kore-Eda’s last film, the Oscar-nominated Shoplifters. But the naturalness with which he portrays fraught family relations comes through just as strongly.

It might be a lesser entry in Kore-Eda’s filmography, but well worth watching to see these actors bounce off of each other.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Truth is now available On Demand.

 

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