This family drama can’t handle the truth!
I was expecting more in the story and character development in “The Truth,” the latest feature from writer/director Hirokazu Koreeda (“Shoplifters”). It mostly focuses on the relationship between the famous, but selfish actress Fabienne Dangeville (Catherine Deneuve) and her screenplay writer daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche), but it never gives them the full narrative they deserve. The writing only assumes that it’s the audience’s job to make sense of their drama, and that’s not helpful.
The daughter criticizes her mother for not mentioning her actress friend Sarah in her autobiography, especially since Fabienne stole an award-winning role from her, by sleeping with the director, and cancelling a boat trip which kills her. She got drunk on the boat, that’s all I could read out of that. The movie just gives us assumptions on who she was to her and Lumir, and nothing on the full basis.
Another thing we know about Sarah is how she used to read to Lumir as a child, and must have developed a better relationship with her than Fabienne did. Other than those elements, I still don’t know who Sarah really was.
And the actress is also greedy for being a fornicator, and for worrying about a new young actress (Ludivine Sagnier) upstaging her on her next movie. For the record, it’s a Sci-Fi movie, where they play the same character. It’s always supposed to be the older folks assuming the young will replace their greatness.
Ethan Hawke plays Luvir’s second-rate actor husband, who doesn’t understand French, and yet, she has everyone speak the language in front of him. His side of the story is set-back, and it fails to give him a character study, despite him being through rehab for his alcoholism.
The best aspect in “The Truth” is its strong sense of humor, which allows the actors and characters to toy with each other, and has a wicked, yet honest taste.
For example, Lumir’s daughter Charlotte (Clementine Grenier) believes her grandmother is a witch, based on a character in a book her mother reads. And ergo, she thinks Fabienne turned her ex-husband Pierre (Roger Van Hool) into her garden turtle.
The performances from Deneuve and Binoche are emotional and honest, as they both get into their characters’ mother/daughter relationship. But they aren’t given their due or scripts. They aren’t fully studied, and they end up leaving us uninterested.
Back to my cousins, after the screening at Boulder International Film Festival, we all agreed on how despite the performances and atmosphere, the story is thin, the characters are all cut-and-paste, and never fully takes off. I was sitting in my seat trying to make sense out of this entire film. I thought I could because of the leading actress and levity, but I couldn’t.
And the title is what I like to consider false advertising. It’s called “The Truth,” but we never get the truth. I guess they thought we couldn’t handle the truth. How depressing.
On VOD This Friday