- Allan Hunter
- 16 March 2020
Hirokazu Kore-eda lands in France for his latest, starring Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche
Palme d'Or winning director Hirokazu Kore-eda seems to be channelling the spirit of Arnaud Desplechin or André Téchiné in The Truth (La Vérité). The director's first non-Japanese work is a perfectly respectable, sometimes charming French family drama that only occasionally sparks into something magical.
Kore-eda continues to dismantle the inner workings of how families operate and endure. He gives Catherine Deneuve a plum of a role as Fabienne, an imperious, old-school movie diva with a hint of Norma Desmond, who has just published her far-from-reliable memoirs. Truth has been no impediment to a volume that paints her in the best possible light.
Her estranged daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) returns to the family home in Paris from America with her husband Hank (Ethan Hawke) and their daughter Charlotte (impressive newcomer Clémentine Grenier). The stage is set for confrontation, as Lumir prepares to challenge her mother's literary claims of exemplary parenthood, whilst Fabienne barely registers that Hank is part of the family. He is only a television actor after all.
Deneuve's haughty manner and complete indifference to the hurt she causes others transforms her character into an entertaining, incorrigible old devil. Binoche is very astute at depicting the way Lumir regards her mother with a mixture of enraged exasperation and indulgent affection. Fabienne's current work on a pretty awful looking film gives both women pause for reflection, especially as the lead actress is so reminiscent of a woman that Fabienne once regarded as a deadly rival.
The two stars lend real presence and weight to a film that never quite shines like a diamond. It is very watchable, with some disarming moments, but overall lacks the signature elegance and assurance we have come to expect from the man who gave us Like Father, Like Son and the sublime Shoplifters.
Selected release and on Curzon Home Cinema from Fri 20 Mar.