Juliette Binoche and Catherine Deneuve, the powerhouse female leads in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “The Truth,” said that working with the Palme d’Or-winning Japanese helmer was “unique,” not only because of the language barrier but also his directing style.
The film, which opens the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday in competition, revolves around the explosive reunion between Fabienne (Deneuve), a star of French cinema who has just published her memoirs, and her daughter, Lumir (Binoche), who returns from New York to Paris with her husband (Ethan Hawke) and young child.
Although Binoche and Deneuve’s onscreen relationship is tumultuous, the pair said they had great admiration for one another as actresses.
“I always dreamed of playing alongside Catherine Deneuve. ‘Peau d’Ane’ is a movie that’s very dear to me, and sharing so much intimacy with her through this film and our work together was vivid and precious consecration,” said Binoche, who who also revealed that Kore-eda had approached her and Deneuve 14 years ago when he started developing the project.
Deneuve said she was also eager to make a film with Binoche, most of whose films she’s seen.
Kore-eda said he wanted to cast both actresses for this film because Deneuve and Binoche “represent the history of French cinema.”
Deneuve, who plays a famous actress, said her character was “very far from her.” “Of course, in every character we inevitably put a bit of our own, and this character is no exception, but at the core she’s an actress who is very different from me, from my own world and my relationship with my daughter [Chiara Mastroianni],” Deneuve said. She met Kore-eda various times in Paris and Japan and collaborated with him on the script.
Deneuve said the language barrier was frustrating at times because she could not address Kore-eda directly. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it “obligated us to only tell each other essential things.”
“It was a unique experience. I had to talk to one person and listen to another, but at some point I could guess what direction he wanted me to take by watching him talk, by just looking at the expressions on his face,” Deneuve said.
Binoche said Kore-eda was initially looking to make the film more of a comedy and would play with her between takes to get her in the right comedic mood. But when she settled into her character, she realized it was more of a dramatic role. “I’m someone who needs to prepare…and I was told for this film that [Kore-eda] did not want me to prepare, so I had to obey,” Binoche said. “So when I came on set I felt that I was going in different directions.”
Asked if they identified with the character of Fabienne, a workaholic actress who is piling up roles, Deneuve said she didn’t, while Binoche, who had three movies out in 2018 and two this year, admitted she was “obsessed” with her acting job. “I’m obsessive with every thing I do. When I cook, when I brush my teeth… I always strive to dedicate myself 1,000% to everything I do.”
Represented in international markets by Wild Bunch, “The Truth” has sold to IFC Films for North America. The movie marks Kore-eda’s followup to his Palme d’Or winning “Shoplifters,” and was produced by 3B Productions and co-produced by Bun-Buku.