TIFF review: The Truth

Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche elevate Hirokazu Kore-eda's sentimental and unsubtle family drama about truth, art and memory

THE TRUTH MAST D: Hirokazu Kore-eda. France/Japan. 106 min. Sep 10, 2:30 pm, TIFF 1 Sep 14, 9:45 am, Scotiabank 4. Rating: NNN

Kore-eda’s first movie shot outside of Japan will be a big draw among fans excited to see two of France’s most recognizable acting talents on screen together as mother and daughter. 

When we meet French screen icon Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve), she’s shadily rebuffing an interviewer’s obsequious questions with bitter self-deprecation. She has just published a memoir full of omissions and inaccuracies – at least according to her estranged screenwriter daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche), who returns home with her C-list American actor husband (Ethan Hawke) and bilingual daughter to celebrate the publication.

When Fabienne’s assistant quits, Lumir fills in and follows her mom to the set of a reverse-aging sci-fi movie, where Fabienne struggles to play opposite a younger actor whom the press compares to one of Fabienne’s late acting rivals. It’s the most obvious of the many unsubtle meta-narratives swirling through the central relationship. Blandly shot in a way that emphasizes little more than the bougie Paris setting, The Truth is frequently rescued by the lived-in rapport between its formidable leads, who must fend off Kore-ada’s attempts at steering The Truth toward cloying sentimentality.

Deneuve is adept at finding the comedy in her unapologetic character’s situation and we get many priceless reaction shots. Binoche, as the daughter who is resentful of her mom’s choice of career over family, gets the more subtle role. Hawke is just along for the ride. Ultimately, this is an insider-y movie about movies, memory and truth in art that doesn’t quite transcend its Rich People Problems trappings.

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