Tuesday, March 3, 2020

THE TRUTH (2019) Rendez-Vous With French Cinema 2020

Memory is not to be trusted- often repeated line of dialog

Hirokazu Koreeda's follow up to THE SHOPLIFTERS is a deceptively simple masterpiece that requires multiple viewings to fully comprehend what it is all about. I say that because this meditation on family, memory and performing keeps referring back on itself and changing what we know is "true"

The plot, such as it is, concerns a famous actress ( Catherine Deneuve ) who has written her memoirs. As the book is published her daughter (Juliette Binoche) and her family (husband Ethan Hawke) come home from America. As everyone reads the book and is stung by how much and who was left out, --- makes a movie about a mother who travels into space to slow her aging- returning every seven years to see her aging daughter.

More a narrative thread to connect up scenes and discussions the plot is kind of optional. It allows for arcs of character but there are no real resolutions.. or maybe there is since one has to watch closely to small gestures and  seeming throw away lines to see what is really going on. I'm not sure since I really need to see the film again since the film has a constant series of revelations about what we know or think is true. What one character says happened is revealed later to to be how it was. Characters will have forgotten that somethings ever happened only to have ah ha moments when someone says they were there.

I was a good third to half way in when I realized that what some writers had dismissed as lesser work from a major director was in fact something much more powerful. It was as if they were looking for him to repeat his last film when instead he went back to his earlier structures. I mentioned the negative reaction to one of my fellow writers after the press screening and all he could ask was "hadn't they seen STILL WALKING?" Apparently not.

Masterful plot aside there is so much to love in this film. From the witty lines that fill it, to two towering performances from Deneuve and Binoche who are both Oscar worthy, to the stunning scenes that fill us with emotion, an impromptu dance that is one of the most joyous moments in the last decade of film or a hug between mother and daughter that is physically tangible in its love between the women.

This film is a towering achievement that will be studied for ages.

THE TRUTH opens this years Rondez-Vous With French Cinema on March 5th before opening in theaters on March 20th

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