Review: La verite (2019)

La verite (2019)

Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda | 106 minutes | drama | Actors: Catherine Deneuve, Mehdi Taleghani, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Clémentine Grenier, Manon Clavel, Alain Libolt, Christian Crahay, Roger Van Hool, Ludivine Sagnier, Laurent Capelluto, Maya Sansa

Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) is a legendary French actress. She lives in a beautiful villa in Paris and is respected by those around her. However, the relationship with her daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche), who works as a screenwriter in New York, has not always been easy. When Fabienne publishes her memoir, Lumir returns to Paris with her American husband Hank (Ethan Hawke) and their daughter Charlotte (Clémentine Grenier).

The reunion between mother and daughter is not particularly cordial and soon brings with it some problems. The details in Fabienne’s memoir are very different from how Lumir remembers her mother’s life. Moreover, it is incomprehensible to Lumir that Fabienne leaves her late friend Sarah, who was also an actress, completely unmentioned in this. By reconnecting with her estranged family and starring in a science fiction film about a mother-daughter relationship, Fabienne could still reconcile with her daughter. But as time runs out, so do emotions.

‘La vérité’ is Hirokazu Koreeda’s first film not made in Japan and in the Japanese language. Few would have predicted that after the success of ‘Shoplifters’ (2018) he would fly to France for his next film, but this is exactly what the filmmaker has done. It is a difficult task for many directors, but with ‘La vérité’ Koreeda shows that he can effortlessly adapt to European cinema. ‘La vérité’ is a very pleasant and professional film by the Japanese director, which thematically fits in well with his earlier work.

Despite the merits of the direction and screenplay, Catherine Deneuve is the main reason why ‘La vérité’ should be seen. Binoche and Hawke also put in good performances, but it is Deneuve who steals the show here. Her role as Fabienne, whose career clearly mirrors that of Deneuve herself, is both comical and sad. She is rude, erratic and theatrical. She is an inept mother and so full of pride that she still considers herself to be at the top of the film world. But at the same time, Fabienne is also vulnerable and emotional, which is excellently portrayed by Deneuve. Fabienne is not a genuine villain, nor is she mean or evil, but – as is often the case with aging celebrities – simply bitter with life. It is a role in which Deneuve knows how to fully indulge himself.

‘La vérité’ is a fine and decent film. It is not one of Koreeda’s most challenging work, but it is a very suitable introduction to his oeuvre. This is because all his fixed themes and motifs are presented here, in a French or other way. If earlier of his films such as ‘Nobody Knows’ (2004) or ‘Still Walking’ (2008) are discovered by new audiences, that is more than positive. ‘La vérité’ proves that Koreeda is able to deliver quality even beyond its trusted environment. It will only enhance his reputation.

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