Hirokazu Kore-eda’s La Vérité (The Truth) is his first film outside of his native Japan. The director has set his sights on Paris, where Catherine Deneuve plays a fading diva actress who’s about to publish her memoirs. Her long-suffering daughter (Juliette Binoche) comes to celebrate and realises that many crucial elements have been airbrushed in the book. “I can’t find any truth here”, she tells her mother about her version of events. Ironically, the same could be said about La Vérité in its entirety.
The encounter between one of Japan’s most vital filmmakers and the two French thespian heavyweights promised much, but none of it rings true, and you’re left with an aggressively middling mother-daughter melodrama we’ve seen countless times before. Gone are the Japanese maestro’s acute observations, which are replaced with meta-platitudes about acting.
It’s genuinely baffling how the filmmaker behind the 2018 Palme d’Or-winning Shoplifters could make such a bland film. Both Deneuve and Binoche are on fine form but can’t shoulder the whole project, and it becomes clear that the draw of a starry cast, as well as a more international setting and audience was more of a preoccupation for Kore-eda than a decent script. La Vérité ends up as a textbook example not only of how foreign auteurs can often lose their way when working in a language and culture that isn’t their own, but also of the limits of nominative determinism.
La Vérité (The Truth) | Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda (France, Japan, 2019), with Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Clémentine Grenier. Starts Mar 5.
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