Film Review: The Truth is a star-studded family drama and a battle of wits

There are many ways to tell a story. We all have varying perspectives and world views. The Truth (La vérité) is a film that explores this notion in a smart and philosophical way. The result is a slow and gentle look at some complex human emotions.

This film is written and directed by Hirokazu Koreeda (Shoplifters). This dramedy is his foreign language debut yet the proceedings feel like they have a quaint, European sensibility. The Truth often seems like it is an onion insofar as it has many different layers and textures, especially as this family melodrama draws on the theme of subjectivity.

Catherine Deneuve steals the show here even though her role is hardly a stretch from real life. As Fabienne Dangeville, she plays a legendary actress who is deeply absorbed in her own mythology. She pens an autobiography but in doing so eschews the “naked” truth and instead, settles on a rose-tinted version of events. No surprises, this places strains on relationships that were already somewhat tortured.

The biggest case in point is Dangeville’s daughter, Lumir (played by the delightful, Juliette Binoche). Lumir is herself a mother working in films as a screenwriter. She brings her family, including her husband (Ethan Hawke) to France to celebrate the release of Dangeville’s memoir. But the reunion is a rather stormy one.

In addition to dramas of the familial kind, Dangeville is a diva starring in a science fiction film. It’s a case of life imitating art or if we want to get meta, a movie in a movie. These scenarios provide some ripe opportunities for Dangeville to offer salty one-liners. There are also many battles of wits between Dangeville and Lumir. It’s entertaining but hardly ground-breaking.

The Truth is not Koreeda’s best film but it does offer audiences some great pause for thought. This handsome flick has an understated charm and some strong female characters. This is ultimately an interesting look at emotions, family dynamics and forgiveness. And as it’s the festive season, this is a well-timed look at the sorts of things that make up families, for better and worse.

 

REVIEW SCORE: THREE & A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE).

The Truth is out now in cinemas.

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