For his first film made outside of his home country Japan’s Hirokazu Koreeda (Shoplifters, Like Father, Like Son) is working with two legends of French cinema and one American. La Vérité stars Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke. It tells a tale which sees Deneuve and Binoche playing versions of themselves. So much so I had a hard time dividing character from actress.
Lumir (Juliette Binoche – Three Colours: Blue, Clouds of Sils Maria), her husband Hank (Ethan Hawke – Before Sunrise, Boyhood) and their young daughter Charlotte (Clementine Grenier – first film) travel from the US to France for the launch of her mother’s book. Her mother is famous French actress, Fabienne Dangeville (Catherine Deneuve – 8 Femmes, Belle de Jour). This is not a happy or comfortable reunion as there is much tension and old wounds between mother and daughter.
When Fabienne’s assistant quits just as she is about to start working on a sci- fi film. Lumir takes over this work. This brings mother and daughter into close quarters and the conflicts continue. Things which have long been buried rise back to the surface.
La Vérité was chosen to open this year’s Venice Film Festival. Probably due to the star power here including director and cast. It then went on to screen at TIFF. Now at Cinemania. It certainly is the type of film which is directly aimed at festival fans. Those who don’t go to tentpole films. Rather those who focus on story, direction and acting.
This is Koreeda’s follow up to his Cannes Palme D’Or winner, Shoplifters. While this is not up to those standards, it certainly is an engaging watch. It looks at family relationships and love. It is an interesting mixture of a very French film and at times quite Japanese.
While watching I could not help but think that this was just a case of Deneuve playing herself. An aging actress who was a huge star and adored by men. Hmmm….not exactly stretching here, is she?
While Binoche and Deneuve are their usual sublime selves there was something about the story which did not equal their performances. The story itself was a little flat for my liking. I kept hoping for a big scene. A large confrontation. Fireworks. But nothing came about.