Best French Films - Cinéma Saturday - The Truth with Catherine Deneuve & Juliette Binoche
Updated: Apr 30
Last week, we delved into one of the greatest classic films of French cinema and its remarkable achievement was explored on the blog.
Back to this week's Cinéma Saturday choice! Today we're in Paris, exploring acting, family relationships and more with a stellar cast and a hugely talented director.
While it premièred at the Venice Film Festival in 2019, the film's release in the US and UK was effectively postponed by the pandemic, as it was due to be released in March 2020. Fortunately, you don't have to miss out as you can watch this film from home in most regions (links below.)
This week's film is The Truth / La Vérité.
Here is the official trailer video:
Cast & Crew
Director: Kore - Eda Hirokazu
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Clémentine Grenier, Ludivine Sagnier, Manon Clavel, Roger Van Hool, Alain Libolt, Christian Crahay
Screenplay: Hirokazu Kore - Eda
Cinematographer: Éric Gautier
Producer: Muriel Merlin
Genre: Comedy Drama
Awards & Accolades: Nominated for Best Actress, Golden Lion, Grand Jury Prize and Best Screenplay (and more) at the Venice Film Festival as well as Silver Lion for Best Director.
Legends of French cinema Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche join masterful filmmaker Hirokazu Kore - Eda (Shoplifters, Still Walking) to paint a moving portrait of family dynamics in THE TRUTH. Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) is an ageing French movie star who, despite her momentary lapses in memory, remains a venerable force to be reckoned with. Upon the publication of her memoirs, her daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) returns to Paris from New York with her husband (Ethan Hawke) and their young daughter to commemorate its release. A sharp and funny battle of wits ensues between the mother-daughter duo, as Lumir takes issue with Fabienne’s rose-colored version of the past. Reflected cleverly by Fabienne’s latest role in a sci-fi drama, their strained relationship takes a poignant journey toward possible reconciliation. Charming, bold, and imbued with endless emotional insight, THE TRUTH offers a relatablelook at human relationships, featuring exquisite performances from its all-star cast.
Fabienne is a star – a star of French cinema. She reigns amongst men who love and admire her. When she publishes her memoirs, her daughter Lumir returns from New York to Paris with her husband and young child. The reunion between mother and daughter will quickly turn to confrontation: truths will be told, accounts settled, loves and resentments confessed.
What I liked about this film
Like me, you might be intrigued to see Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche in the same film. Two amazing actors of French cinema together on screen - what a treat! And I feel that's exactly what this film is - a treat for the eyes, senses and the brain! It gets you thinking about its title all the way through... what is the truth here and do we know it when we hear it? Can actors share more truth than we can? I've classified this film as a comedy drama and you might disagree with that. It's a family drama in one sense but with moments of playful comedy and a lightness in approach. This film has a subtle beauty and is a questioning film that asks you, the viewer, to wonder. Watch the film and let me know what you think!
Catherine Deneuve plays a rather cruel, distant mother figure (Fabienne) who is a star of French cinema, renowned and regarded by her close ones (more entourage than family) and critics alike, rendered quite simply vain and, shall we say, 'creative' in her memory by the truths her daughter brings to her attention on returning to the family home. Fabienne has everything all worked out for her memoirs and her daily routine, which we see somewhat disturbed by the arrival of her daughter, a writer, and her husband (a less than talented actor) and their daughter. Can they establish the truths they agree on? Can they find what has been missing, what has been lost in their relationship? We do not know if reconciliation is even possible.
The acting is first rate, as you would imagine. With moments of sheer beauty and genius from the mystery and mischief of a disappearing tortoise, the thoughts that play across Deneuve's face to the outsider husband, who doesn't speak French, but has to find a way through that isolation to understand the fireworks within the family. Tender grandparent moments, harsh parental moments and the realisation of painful truths in family life all form a part of the dynamics and explorations in the film.
As a character-driven film it excels and it's a joy to watch the storyline unfold with these characters at home together once more, with all of their own issues and history. Also a parallel life is emerging in the sci-fi film Fabienne is making bringing into focus more truth and questions. It's a film that gets you thinking rather than necessarily loving everyone or any particular character. It doesn't need you to love them or hate them, but to watch without judgement and consider your own thoughts. I like that in a film. There's a certain freedom in that, don't you think?
Ethan Hawke is a magnificent underrated addition to this casting who helped the actor playing their daughter, Clémentine Grenier, on-set by directing in front of the camera while Kore-Eda directed from behind the camera. This organic partnership has created some wonderful performances by Grenier and Hawke. In fact, it is a film full of remarkable performances from child actor up to Deneuve and Binoche, everyone gives their best here. Kore-Eda created, wrote and directed the and it's his first film outside of Japan, made in France with a French crew.
During the shoot, Ethan Hawke told me: “The important thing when making a film is not to speak the same language but to share the same vision of the film you want to make.” These words of support helped me to stay true without losing confidence in myself. (Kore-Eda)
A thoughtful, but not slow or deliberate, film that brings comedy, playfulness and drama to the screen with the recognition of family relationships often being a combination of all three! A charming, moving and enjoyable film for the week.
Where to Find It
The Truth film is available in many regions to stream online. This link has all the online details you might need for watching it at home.
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US & UK (clicking will show the product in your Amazon region*)
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Have you seen this film? Did you like it? Let me know what you thought by email: hello at francewhereyouare dot com or over on social media.
I love to talk cinema!
And when they're closed, I love to talk home cinema. 😉