Japan’s modern master of the family drama slides gracefully into the annals of French film history with The Truth, his fourteenth narrative feature and the first made outside of his homeland, boasting no less than the inaugural pairing of icons Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche.
Playing an equally luminous, if far more imperious version of herself, Deneuve is superb as the prickly Fabienne, a legendary actress about to publish her memoirs. Arriving in Paris for the book launch is screenwriter daughter Lumir (Binoche), second-rate TV actor husband Hank (Ethan Hawke) and their little girl Charlotte (Clémentine Grenier, proving yet again Kore-eda’s eye for child actors is impeccable). All appear not as close to Fabienne as her writings suggest. Meanwhile, Kore-eda’s interests in memory and familial resentment shimmer in the reflective surfaces of the sci-fi movie Fabienne is shooting, about a mother-daughter relationship age-inverted by the time dilation effects of space. It’s a pleasure to witness this dynamic further mirrored in the exchanges between Deneuve and Binoche, among the finest performers of their respective generations, here revelling in the subtle and not-so-subtle friction of their mingling screen personas.
“Nothing in The Truth is more uncomfortably honest than the notion that families are cast much like films are cast; once people settle into their roles, it can become impossible to imagine them being played differently, or by anyone else. The beauty of Kore-eda’s movie… is in the rhetorical way it wonders if it’s possible for people to separate themselves from those performances…
This is a story that recognizes how family is a living thing, and how dangerous it can be to place all your trust in any memory that refuses to make room for a new one. Eventually, Lumir asks Fabienne ‘Do you love yourself, or do you love film?’ Fabienne replies: ‘I love the films I’m in.’ In a movie full of lies, it’s a moment that feels as true as anything Kore-eda has ever made.” — David Ehrlich, Indiewire