Directed by: Kate Johnston, Shauna MacDonald | 94 minutes | drama, romance | Actors: Shauna MacDonald, Christine Horne, Kate Trotter, Peter MacNeill, Anna Cyzon, Tony Nappo, Alexander Chapman, Jerritt Boyce, Sean Kaufmann, Tattiawna Jones, Rachael Ancheril, Duff MacDonald, Devon MacDonald
Kate Johnston literally grew up in a projection room. Her father ran a movie theater on a military base in Canada and as a little girl Kate could be found in the cinema every day. “That beam of light that shot through the dark and landed on a big screen; I loved it. It was pure magic. Star dust. I fell in love with film – from Bergman to Capra. ” She decided to become an actress and for years she acted on the Canadian stage, often in pieces with a feminist or lesbian theme. Johnston, herself a lesbian, wanted to make films herself, because she did not find the support in the ‘mainstream’ film industry to make ‘her genre films’. After training in screenwriting and film production, she first produced for others, after which in 2010 she felt that she was ready to make her own films. Especially after she met soulmate Shauna MacDonald. Tru Love is their shared brainchild. The seed for the film was planted as early as 2010 and blossomed in 2015. Together they wrote the script and took care of the direction; MacDonald also plays the leading role.
37-year-old Tru (Shauna MacDonald) is struggling to keep her relationships and jobs. Restless and scarred by past events, she lives her life from day to day. Until she meets 60-year-old Alice (Kate Trotter), the mother of her friend Suzanne (Christine Horne). Kate is a widow who is struggling with her recent loss, but regains zest for life and energy through Tru. Somehow it fascinates her beyond measure that Tru likes women. She wants to know everything about it. An unlikely friendship develops for the outside world, which not everyone can appreciate. Suzanne doesn’t like the budding love between her mother and her friend. She thinks Tru sees it as a game and knows she can’t or won’t commit and she doesn’t want her mother, who is already vulnerable anyway, faces even more grief. The story of ‘Tru Love’ is very personal. Johnston based all three central characters on a different part of her personality. She herself was, like Tru, a ‘bed hopper’ in her early years. The scene where Tru picks up an onion to finally cry and feel something, and show a loved one that she really cares, is true. Tru Love is packed with those kinds of personal moments, which makes the events and the characters believable. These are three women who, like everyone else in fact, want to share, feel and experience their love, but also want to feel that they are loved. But who are also like death that that love is not reciprocated, do not want to be lost.
It is unfortunate that she herself did not rely 100 percent on the strength of the three female characters and found it necessary to have Alice have conversations with her late husband Richard (Peter MacNeill). Scenes that add little to nothing, seem artificial and distract from this otherwise fascinating relationship sketch of three women. Johnston also left the corner at the end; nevertheless ‘Tru Love’ – especially when you consider that Johnston and MacDonald have little experience as filmmakers – is a beautiful, sensitive and very personal film, with the heart in the right place.