REVIEW: The Truth is a funny French family drama by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda

Fabienne, portrayed by Catherine Deneuve, and her daughter Lumir, portrayed by Juliette Binoche in The Truth, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. (PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures)

By Lim Yian Lu

Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, The Truth tells the story of Fabienne, portrayed by Catherine Deneuve, and her daughter Lumir, portrayed by Juliette Binoche. Fabienne is a star of the French cinema, who reigns amongst men who love and admire her. When Fabienne publishes her memoirs, Lumir who gave up her dreams of becoming an actress and became a scriptwriter in New York, returns to Paris with her husband Hank, portrayed by Ethan Hawke, and young daughter Charlotte, portrayed by Clémentine Grenier. Their reunion quickly turned into confrontation with truths being revealed, accounts settled, loves and resentment confessed.

If you enjoyed Kore-eda’s thought-provoking films like the award-winning Japanese films Shoplifters and The Third Murder, you would find The Truth – his first film shot abroad in a language that is not his native Japanese, and with a totally French crew – interesting and refreshing to watch.

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To begin with, Fabienne’s memoirs are not 100% true, which Lumir called her out on for including something that had never happened before. But cheekily, Fabienne said that she was an actress and if she shared the naked truth, it would not be interesting for her audience. While the movie is a drama about seemingly mundane family matters, it is such light humour that makes it a joy to watch. By depicting something closer to real life, where drama and comedy coexist, the audience can expect a movie that is not only serious but also light-hearted.

(From left, foreground) Juliette Binoche as Lumir; Catherine Deneuve as Fabienne; and Ethan Hawke as Hank in The Truth, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. (PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures)

Apart from simply illustrating the conflicts between the mother and daughter, director Kore-eda also made use of the seasons as the backdrop. The Truth takes place from the end of summer to the start of winter. The colours of the trees gradually changed as did the relationship between Fabienne and Lumir, as they slowly got to understand each other better.

Sometimes, when we fail to communicate and choose to mask our feelings with lies, we are unable to realise that what we wanted may have been the same as the other party. For Fabienne, she claimed that she would rather be a bad mother and a good actress. On the other hand, although Lumir had remembered otherwise, she was told that she always loved the scenes that her mother acted in.

In the end, when it comes to close relationships like family, it boils down to that iconic question of which is better: a kind lie or a cruel truth? Would you lie and sacrifice yourself for the supposed greater good? Or would you belt out the cold, hard truth to find some much-needed closure? Is it all just a script to read and act or is it more than just crocodile tears and eye drops? Perhaps, it is through the science-fiction drama which Fabienne was acting in as Amy (hey, it’s film-ception!), who has a forever-young mother, that both Fabienne and Lumir were able to resolve their conflicts.

The Truth opens in cinemas on 2 January. The movie is 106 minutes long and rated PG.