Review by Sean Boelman
The first non-Japanese-language film from acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters), The Truth is a cinematic masterclass in acting if there ever was one. Understated and simple, but wonderfully so, this may not have the same depth as some of the director’s other work, though it is just as gorgeous.
The movie follows a screenwriter as she reunites with her famous actress mother who has just published her memoir, causing long-buried tensions to come to the surface. Much like Kore-eda’s other work, this is at its core a relatively simple melodrama, but with much more authenticity and depth of emotion.
With this film, Kore-eda offers another exploration of the family dynamic. In this case, the filmmaker’s focus is on communication and transparency. As the title suggests, there is an underlying truth waiting to be revealed, and that constitutes a significant portion of the characters’ emotional arcs.
The core relationship that exists between mother and daughter is truly fascinating. There is a lot to dissect in these characters, and while the movie’s comparatively brief hour-and-forty-five-minute runtime may not be quite enough for them to be fully developed, there is sufficient resolution to be satisfying.
Undeniably the highlight of the film, though, are its performances. Both Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche give performances that should be worthy of awards. As two of the most talented French actresses working today, they absolutely light up the screen. Deneuve is particularly scene-stealing with her vulnerable and emotional performance.
That said, the movie’s subplots do feel rather underbaked. The main side story involves the protagonist’s mother having a gig in a film-within-a-film based on a short story by Ken Liu. While this is interesting, especially when it addresses the dynamic between the character and her younger co-star, more of the runtime could’ve been dedicated to this. A subplot involving the protagonist’s marriage also doesn’t work as well as it could.
On a technical level, Kore-eda brings a lot of upscale elegance to the movie’s style. The cinematography by Eric Gautier is minimalistic but beautiful, using light in ways that are very aesthetically appealing. Alexei Aigui’s wonderful score also stands out as something that helps elevate the film stylistically.
The Truth may not be among Hirokazu Kore-eda’s best work, but it is still a riveting watch. It is certainly worth watching if only for the two lead performances, which are undoubtedly among the best one will see all year.
The Truth hits theaters and VOD on July 3.