Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche in The Truth
Writer/director Boaz Yakin takes one of storytelling’s simplest setups—"boy meets girl”—and transforms it into something radically fascinating by making it “boy who’s also sometimes a girl meets girl who’s also sometimes a boy.” The more familiar modern spin is that Eden and Aviva fall for one another first as transatlantic email pen pals before beginning a tumultuous romance; Yakin complicates things further by double-casting both roles, with Eden (Tyler Phillips and Bobbi Jene Smith) and Aviva (Zina Zinchenko and Or Schraiber) alternately played by male and female actors (and occasionally the childhood or adolescent versions of themselvess). And that’s only the beginning of the formal hijinks Yakin is up to, as he also includes elaborate dance sequences, a meta-textual awareness by everyone involved that we’re watching a filmed version of their story, and plenty of full frontal nudity and graphic sex. That all could have added up to a movie that’s way too much for its own good, but instead it ends up thrilling to observe as Yakin brings such vitality to a basic relationship arc. It’s a story of what we hide even from those with whom we’re most intimate, and the parts of ourselves that we need to make peace with before we can find happiness with someone else. Available July 3 at UtahFilmCenter.org.
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. Available July 3 via Disney+.
John Lewis: Good Trouble **1/2
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. Available July 3 via SLFSatHome.org, UtahFilmCenter.org and ParkCityFilm.org.
The Truth ***
For his first foray into a non-Japanese language film, director Hirokazu Kore-eda at least finds himself in his comfort zone of exploring tangled familial dynamics. Celebrated veteran actress Fabienne Dangeville (Catherine Deneuve) is preparing to publish her memoir, an occasion which brings her screenwriter daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) out from Hollywood to honor the occasion with her actor husband (Ethan Hawke) and young daughter (Clémentine Grenier). Kore-eda isn’t above underlining his emotional bullet points at times, and here he casts Fabienne in a film-with-the-film that’s all about a mother and daughter trying to reconcile their relationship. But despite those occasional nudges—and a role for Hawke that feels woefully underwritten—The Truth can always fall back on the terrific pairing of Deneuve and Binoche. As effectively as the story explores the way our feelings about family members are shaped by remembering—or mis-remembering—past events, it’s often even better in the tiny moments it give its two leads, like Lumir responding to her mother’s professional jealousy with a barely audible sigh, or Fabienne’s increasing agitation whenever a gathering isn’t placing her at the center of attention. Available July 3 via VOD.