When hearing about Hirokazu Kore-eda’s project immediately following his film Shoplifters, it’s tempting to want to compare the two. However, that’s something that shouldn’t be done. Unlike that strong 2018 feature, The Truth isn’t trying to generate suspense in a typical way or build toward a huge twisting conclusion. Instead, the film that he decided to follow up with is unique in its own right as it’s a steady drama that focuses on strained relationships in a way that’s mostly believable and highly relatable to just about anyone even though it’s set in the world of French cinema.
The movie is primarily constructed around Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve), an iconic French movie star whose daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) has decided to pay her a visit. The relationship between this pairing can be described as strained and distant. That becomes even more obvious once Lumir, her husband (Ethan Hawke), and their young daughter land in Paris after arriving from New York. As soon as the two reunite, things become confrontational as tensions arise from the untold truths that are now being spoken.
Based on what I’ve already said, it’s obvious that you shouldn’t be watching this hoping for too many of the usual twists and turns. Rather than being something that contains thrillingly dramatic and emotional moments, The Truth chooses to almost wholly fixate on its characters and their interactions with one another. And because of this, the progression of their relationships throughout the story prove to be more important than anything.
From the start, I found myself getting into the characters as I got to see them maneuver around each other. What made it more appealing was seeing how things changed over the course of time as they are learning how to deal with one another and adjust to the new information that comes up from said interactions. At times, this is done almost purely with conversation and non-verbal expressions from those we follow.
The emotional events that we witness in The Truth are heightened by the way they are handled. They never include any instances of the kind of sensationalistic outrage that you may have come to expect in film. As an alternative to the conventional, we’re presented with moments that are more subdued and measured. While this allows these scenes to stand out when compared to what we usually get, it also gives the picture’s style a chance to continuously flow in a fashion that’s tempered and even.
Although I’m sure many will enjoy it, The Truth may be most appreciated by those who want to focus on and analyze its characters. It’s the kind of movie that takes its time and is moved forward by a sort of subtlety and humanity that’s mostly foreign in the world of cinema. Adding a bit more “punch” wouldn’t have hurt it, but making this as light and fluid as it is even with the occasional heavy discussion allows it to set itself a part from other feature films.
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Screenwriter: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Film Length: 106 minutes
Release Date: July 3, 2020 (U.S.)
Distributor: IFC Films
- Score - 7/107/10