On hearing the news, ex-pat Tomás flies from Canada to Madrid to spend four days with his old friend Julián. In terms of plot there’s some bickering about the past plus a day-trip to Amsterdam to visit Julián’s son, and that’s about it. But don’t be dissuaded, Truman offers much, much more.
This is a film about the troublesome mechanics of friendship, of ageing and the inevitability of dying. Foremost it’s about being human, about courage and generosity. And that’s what makes it so warm. At the centre of the film are two knockout performances by two of the best actors working in Spain – Javier Cámara (Talk To Her) and Ricardo Darín (Wild Tales). There’s not a moment in this film that doesn’t ring true as they reconnect the past and set about the business of the present.
It’s not exactly easy business either as Julián finalises his will, draws a line on how much hospital intervention he wants (none), prepares funeral arrangements and most significantly, tries to find a new home for Truman the dog who will certainly outlive his owner. With Tomás looking on as non-judgementally as he can, his friend defies convention to define the terms of his own mortality. Gutsy stuff. Provocative too.
Yet despite the rather dark world of Truman, the film beats with a surprisingly sunny and uplifting heart. Director Cesc Gay sees to that, a writer with past form revealing middle-aged men. He avoids the mawkish and the sentimental to create memorable characters who quietly deal with what needs to be done, and paradoxically find a way to enjoy themselves doing it. These are men firmly in touch with their emotions but there’s no renting of cloth and barely a tear (on screen at least) as they face the simple reality that their time – notably Julián’s – is coming to a close. Therein the courage, the generosity and power of Truman; an often funny film that shows how bitter-sweet enriches all our lives.
// COLIN FRASER
Previewed at Verona Cinemas, Sydney, on 28 July 2016
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