There’s a central message in this movie, which is something we should all keep in mind. That message is that memory isn’t always accurate. When holding a grudge, especially over some time, it might be wise to remember that cobwebs build.
In writer/director Hirokazu Koreeda’s (Shoplifters, Still Walking) film about an aging actress, mother and grandmother, and her relationships with the people around her, Catherine Deneuve, plays the hard to handle diva, Fabienne. Juliette Binoche plays her daughter, Lumir, a scriptwriter who lives in New York.
The film is set in Paris France, where Lumir grew up. In fact, a lot of the film takes place in Lumir’s childhood home, where her mother still resides. This is a gorgeous location, by the way. The older actress is shooting her latest film, and from her behavior during filming, you can’t help but wonder if it’ll be her last. Fabienne has also just released her memoirs. This being the case, Lumir, her husband, a TV star played by Ethan Hawke, and their young daughter, Charlotte (Clémentine Grenier), have come to support its publication and give young Charlotte a chance to see her grandmother at work. The revelation in ‘The Truth’ is about getting to the bottom of why Lumir feels so disconnected from her maternal parent. They’ve been estranged for some time, yet in an attempt to release the past, Lumir begins to read Fabienne’s autobiography. She remembers her mother being much more present on set than she ever was at home and takes exception to some of Fabienne’s glowing take on what Lumir recalls not happening, during her childhood. Picked her child up from school?? Never.
Here’s where the film within the film comes into play. I enjoyed it immensely as it gave Deneuve a chance to provide us with more. Though that’s wonderful, it also slows the narrative down considerably. With the reality of what she just read and her familiarly unavailable mother acting as though there’s nothing wrong with what she wrote, Lumir watches Fabienne play the role of a loving mother for the cameras. She has trouble recalling the time Fabienne wasn’t just a well-known diva, even at home. It seems that was the only role Fabienne was born to play. Not only play but never grow beyond. It was Lumir’s father, Pierre, who attended school functions such as plays. Her mother was too busy being an actress, living the life that was more appealing to her than that of a caring parent.
Their relationship, what’s left of it, is the heart of the film. How it will progress, if it can, is what propels the story forward. Lumir trying to have a meaningful discussion with a woman whose head has always been in the clouds, is a compelling dance to witness. Binoche pirouette’s through the performance beautifully. The ‘spin’ within the book is addressed several times to no apologies, but Fabienne offers her daughter this… She won’t reveal ‘the naked truth’ because the truth isn’t ‘interesting’ to the reader.
Will watching this mother and daughter’s story blossom be appealing to you? I think so. Keep in mind that it is slow, but it has moments of humor and sweetness. Also, seeing and hearing Deneuve and Binoche speak in their native tongue with little Charlotte, as they leave Hawke’s ‘Hank’ behind, is fun to watch.
*Now opening in select theaters and VOD.
The film will also be available on all of the following platforms:
Digital Platforms: iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, YouTube, Vudu, PlayStation, Xbox
Cable Platforms: Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner, Brighthouse), Verizon Fios, Altice (Optimum), Cox, DirecTV, AT&T, Bend Broadband, Buckeye, Guadalupe Valley, Hotwire Communications, Metrocast, Suddenlink, WOW Internet Cable, RCN, Midcontinent Communications.
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Writers: Hirokazu Koreeda
Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Clémentine Grenier, Manon Clavel
Running Time: 1h 46m
Genres: Drama, Family