Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
Want more? Listen to our discussion of 'The Truth' on SWITCHCast
Joel interviews the MIFF team to find out what's in this year's program announcement! Click to listen to our special SWITCHCast ep now.x
review, The Truth, The, Truth, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Catherine Deneuve, Ethan Hawke, Juliette Binoche, Ludivine Sagnier, Roger Van Hool, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Drama film rating




By Ashley Teresa
5th December 2019

Over the last decade, Asian cinema has begun to bleed, more than ever, into the consciousness of mainstream Western audiences, and for good reason. Hirokazu Kore-eda's Palme d'Or-winning 'Shoplifters' has been one of such films to receive widespread and much-deserved acclaim. Its delicate and deferential exploration of the family unit also managed to dissect poverty in Japan in a way that left more people than ever excited to see what Kore-eda would do next. With his follow-up, 'The Truth', Kore-eda appears to be setting his sights high; not only is it his first non-Japanese film, but he has been developing the story since 2003 and bagged a stellar lead cast of Catherine Deneuve ('Belle de Jour'), Juliette Binoche ('High Life') and Ethan Hawke ('First Reformed'). Everything was in place for 'The Truth' to be another slam dunk for Kore-eda.

If one was to describe 'Shoplifters' as a beautifully-crafted painting, then 'The Truth' would be the stick figure doodles of a bored highschool student.

To Kore-eda's credit, 'The Truth' actually starts off quite strongly; we are first introduced to Fabienne (Deneuve), a French film icon whose long-spanning career mirrors Deneuve's, giving an interview about her newly-released memoirs and upcoming film. It would be easy to phone this type of scene in by having the interviewer spew exposition under the guise of contextualising his questions, but Fabienne hijacks the interview, explaining with boredom that she has already answered these questions for other publications. It's a fantastic introduction to a character so accustomed to having the world at her feet, and she is used to spinning things her way. This spinning of the past and Fabienne's own truth in her memoirs bring her daughter Lumir (Binoche), her husband Hank (Hawke) and their daughter Charlotte (Clémentine Grenier) from New York to Paris. It seems that Lumir holds a radically different recollection of her mother's life and career, even annotating a copy of her mother's book with omissions and exaggerations she has made, in particular about their relationship.


While it's obvious from the outset that this is Fabienne's story (Deneuve gives the best performance by default here, simply because she has the most to work with), it's fascinating that 'The Truth' never feels entirely sympathetic to her yet spends most of its run time revolving around her life. It could be argued that the Fabienne's upcoming sci-fi film (which looks god-awful, mind you) is an exploration of her career; Fabienne plays the elderly daughter of a woman who never grows old, fleeing the set when made to wear a grey wig for a scene. It's obvious that Fabienne's disruptive behaviour on set is a silent protest against an industry she silently fears is ready to toss her out in her old age, but it's just so on-the-nose that I didn't even bat an eyelid when she was constantly cutting takes, wanting her scenes to be perfect. This is a woman so used to playing make-believe that she's adopted that mindset for her own real life. We've seen this before.

It's also fascinating just how boring the entire film is. 'The Truth' feels ready to drop some explosive secrets from Fabienne and Lumir's tumultuous relationship, but it never amounts to anything beyond Fabienne's own anxieties as an actress and how she screwed over her now-deceased rival. It's the equivalent of being promised a three-course meal and receiving a flavourless protein bar instead. Nothing exciting is occurring from a visual standpoint, and the sparse score gives the affair a much lighter spin than is appropriate. The editing also feels half-baked, with scenes either running one line of dialogue too long or being cut off as they could go somewhere interesting. Tonally, 'The Truth' wants to have its cake and eat it too - to be a lighthearted dramedy that explores the intricate relationships a woman can have to her blood and to her work, but it doesn't have the gravitas to strike an effective balance. It's not like it has not been done before; in fact, Olivier Assayas' 'Clouds of Sils Maria', also starring Binoche, traverses incredibly similar thematic ground with much more ease. Blame it on a weak script or blame it on moving from Japanese to French, but there's a good chance some moments lose their effectiveness when they're lost in translation.

Catherine Deneuve gives the best performance by default, which leaves Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke to be criminally underutilised.

As previously mentioned, Deneuve gives the best performance, which leaves Binoche and Hawke to be criminally underutilised. Both deserve scripts with more meat on the bone (Binoche has far more screen time than Hawke, but her character is so flimsy with her emotions and motivations that it just feels sad to waste a wonderful actress on the role).

'The Truth' has a number of interesting ideas that lend themselves favourably to this film's rewatchability, but it's such a bland affair that I cannot understand why one would want to watch it again. I felt as if I was forgetting it as I watched it.

AKA: The Truth
RELEASE DATE: 26/12/2019
RUN TIME: 1h 46m
CAST: Catherine Deneuve
Ethan Hawke
Juliette Binoche
Ludivine Sagnier
Roger Van Hool
DIRECTOR: Hirokazu Kore-Eda
PRODUCERS: Muriel Merlin
Miyuki Fukuma
Want more? Listen to our discussion of 'The Truth' on SWITCHCast 
Looking for more Boxing Day reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights. 
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
The Princess Diaries - 20 years since Genovia found its princess
TRENDINGTHE PRINCESS DIARIES20 years since Genovia found its princess
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
The Emperor's New Groove - Getting in the Groove for the past 20 years
TRENDINGTHE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVEGetting in the Groove for the past 20 years
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
A Month Of Sundays - A funny, moving story
The Visit - You can't choose your family
TRENDINGTHE VISITYou can't choose your family
Jungle Cruise - Sailing into a new Disney classic adventure
TRENDINGJUNGLE CRUISESailing into a new Disney classic adventure
The killer twists of M. Night Shyamalan - Ranking the meditative and menacing films of a blockbuster auteur
TRENDINGTHE KILLER TWISTS OF M. NIGHT SHYAMALANRanking the meditative and menacing films of a blockbuster auteur
Fanny Lye Deliver'd - Feminist folk horror
Endings, Beginnings - Star-studded sex drama lacks substance
TRENDINGENDINGS, BEGINNINGSStar-studded sex drama lacks substance
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -
Matilda - Revolting children for 25 years
TRENDINGMATILDARevolting children for 25 years
Some Kind of Heaven - A bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
TRENDINGSOME KIND OF HEAVENA bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
The Tomorrow War - A futuristic action flick buried under old tropes
TRENDINGTHE TOMORROW WARA futuristic action flick buried under old tropes
Golden Voices - Immigration struggles with amusing challenges
TRENDINGGOLDEN VOICESImmigration struggles with amusing challenges
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!