The Truth

The great Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda heads to Paris for his Western cinema debut, which stars Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke and Catherine Deneuve

Film Review by Josh Slater-Williams | 03 Mar 2020
  • The Truth
Film title: The Truth
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke
Release date: 20 Mar
Certificate: PG

Following his Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters, prolific Japanese writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda heads to France for both his first French- and English-language film, The Truth. While the locations and social milieus have dramatically changed, the filmmaker’s skill with powerful and tender portraits of family conflicts has not been lost in translation.

Fabienne Dangeville – a role certainly befitting of Catherine Deneuve – is a major veteran star of French cinema. Set to publish her memoirs and filming a science fiction drama she doesn’t care for, she’s faced with familial tensions when her estranged daughter Lumir (Binoche), a screenwriter, returns from New York to Paris with her American actor-husband, Hank (Hawke), and young daughter, Charlotte (Grenier, in a charming screen debut).

A tone for proceedings is immediately set upon the family’s arrival at the start of the film: when Charlotte posits that her grandmother’s stately home looks like a castle, Lumir assures her child that “there is a prison just behind it.” Lumir’s disputes with the accuracy of Fabienne’s memoirs’ accounts of events and relationships prove just one cause of a visit riddled with confessions and passive-aggressive confrontations.

There’s a comic lightness and luscious atmosphere to The Truth that feels of a piece with certain French films Deneuve and Binoche have on their resume, and in contrast to the darker waters in which Kore-eda’s domestic dramas often tread. But Kore-eda maintains his knack for the gradual accumulation of little moments for maximum effect, rather than going all-in on grand speeches and showdowns.

Released 20 Mar by Curzon; certificate PG

Screens at GFF: Tue 3 Mar, GFT, 6.15pm | Wed 4 Mar, GFT, 3.45pm