‘The Truth’ review: Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche’s honest portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship

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An actress’ memoirs sparks an argument with her adult daughter, in director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s first film set outside Japan

Joanne Ma |
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Catherine Deneuve (centre left) and Juliette Binoche star in 'The Truth'.

The Truth revolves around the tumulous relationship between a celebrated French actress and her daughter.

Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) has just finished writing her memoirs, detailing her glittering career as an actress and years as a doting mother to her daughter, Lumir (Juliette Binoche). Only Lumir knows this isn’t quite the truth, and is furious to discover that her mother has lied about her less-than-perfect upbringing. Still, Fabienne, who has her public image to think of, refuses to edit the novel.

Things change, however, when Fabienne is cast in a film where she plays a daughter who is ageing faster than her mother. The experience is a powerful reminder to both Fabienne and the audience of how little time we have with our loved ones, and is enough to give her a change of heart.

While film may be slow-moving, with few dramatic moments, its plot is no less rich for it. Through simple, everyday scenarios, it depicts the subtle tensions between Fabienne and Lumir, as well as the gradual changes in their relationship as the film progresses. Credit here must go to the two lead actresses, who are able to convey everything their characters are feeling, but not saying. With a frown or eye-roll here, a blank stare or sad smile there, they manage to capture the true essence of a mother-daughter relationship.

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The film’s realistic setting is also a reminder that small experiences can be life-changing, too. One doesn’t have to go through a roller coaster of emotion to understand life. Meanwhile, its use of a film-within-a-film format is a stroke of storytelling genius that serves to drive home the its message with the audience.

All in all, The Truth delivers a story that is both honest and captivating.

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