The Truth is a remarkably breezy, gentle film, considering the existential thematic elements coursing through its veins. It deftly explores themes of fame, of artificiality, how you’re never good enough in the eyes of your elders – or so you may think. When lines between reality and artifice blur, “what is the Truth?” it asks. It’s the work of an accomplished auteur, one utterly confident of his craft, trusting the formidable cast to do wonders with his low-key script. And wonders they do. Deneuve’s dazzling exterior, all brilliant smiles and snappy quips – an actress whose life is the ultimate role – masquerades a well of inhibitions, and longing. Binoche’s performance counterbalances Deneuve’s by being more outwardly, each speck of resentment in her eyes penetrating right through celluloid. Hawke wisely steps back, allowing the women to hash it out.
“…the work of an accomplished auteur, one utterly confident of his craft, trusting the formidable cast to do wonders with his low-key script…”
Speaking of, leave it to the French to make a truly feminist feature without trumping the #MeToo horns. The Truth is led by elegant, strong women – who also happen to be insecure, resentful, and ambitious to a fault, which makes them that much more human (as opposed to cinematic mascots for empowerment). It would also have been easy to delegate the film’s lone noteworthy male character – Hawke’s Hank – to the “enfeebled husband” role, but he, too, is a fleshed-out character, a struggling actor who may never measure up to his mother-in-law’s stature (both Fabienne and Lumir mock him throughout) but outshines her with pure compassion. There’s a scene where he attempts to come to Lumir’s rescue during a mother-daughter confrontation, just to get promptly shut down – take that, Sarah Connor.
Don’t come in expecting high-stakes melodrama, soul-twisting resolutions, or fiery exchanges. This is one of those meditative films about a fragment of life, wherein we find distinct familiarities. It demands that we slow down and appreciate its leisurely pace, its elegiac/humorous tone – and primarily, its lead performance. “Don’t call me mom,” Fabienne scolds her daughter on set. No one would dare commit such an atrocity, not with Fabienne, nor with the incredible actress who plays her.
The Truth screened at the 2019 AFI Fest.
"…a remarkably breezy, gentle film, considering the existential thematic elements coursing through its veins."