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'The Truth' Released In Theaters, On Demand After COVID-19 Delay


"The Truth," starring Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche, was set to be released in March, but it was delayed until now because of the coronavirus. It opens this weekend in select theaters and on demand. We spoke with Juliette Binoche in early March before the movie's original release date, and here's our conversation.

In "The Truth," Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche play an aging French cinema star and her daughter. You know, that's probably all we need to say.


JULIETTE BINOCHE: (As Lumir, speaking French).

SIMON: Ethan Hawke plays the American husband/son-in-law. The film is the first directed in the West by Hirokazu Koreeda, the great Japanese director, and Juliette Binoche joins us from Paris. Thanks so much for being with us.

BINOCHE: Thank you very much.

SIMON: I'm sure you've been asked this question a lot - so what's it like to go toe to toe onscreen with Catherine Deneuve?

BINOCHE: Well, she was one of my icons, you know, when I was a little girl, so suddenly playing her daughter, it was, like, breathtaking for me. I tried to be as close as I could because, you know, she's well known to keep her distance sometimes, so I said tu, which is, you know, the French form to be as close as possible to someone. And she continued saying vous, vous, vous. So I insisted until she accepted the tu. And so I was happy because I felt, OK, now we're going to get a little closer. And then because she's smoking so much, I thought I've got to smoke. I've got to share the same ashtray, the same lights. And then finally she opened her heart and package (laughter).

SIMON: And I would feel negligent if I didn't remind you and our listeners smoking's no good for you.

BINOCHE: I know, and we know, but if it's just for a film, that's OK. Come on. We're actors.

SIMON: Well - and that raises this point. Your mother in the film, portrayed by Catherine Deneuve, is publishing her memoirs. Your character, the daughter, is uncomfortable with her mother's recollections, and her mother says, look, I'm an actress. I don't tell the naked truth.

BINOCHE: You know, what she feels like saying in a book is probably - I mean, it's very strong. There's a feeling of betrayal. And I am very angry. Lumir in the film is very angry when she reads that. And my character is in need of a mother, but she hasn't been a real mother in a way, you know, taking care of her. She's confronting her mother because of that, because of those lies but mainly because of the need that hasn't been taken care of. So this relationship is conflictual, is difficult until, you know, I get to be an assistant of her (laughter) and then we go into another layer because being in need of a mother until the end, it's no fun. She decides to see the needs of the actress. Then there's something that takes a little distance and is healing in a way.

SIMON: There's an extraordinary scene that reminded me of the Truffaut film, "Day For Night," where an actress has to play a wrenching emotional scene. She's very moving and the director says, that was great. Now do it again 20% shorter (laughter). That's just the business?

BINOCHE: Yeah. It happened to me in my, you know, professional life that I felt I gave everything I needed to give for that scene and even the people applauded at the end of the scene, which is quite rare on the set. And the following day, the director took me on set and said that we had to shoot that scene again. And I was so shocked, but that's the game to play.

SIMON: I have read that you turned down a role in "Jurassic Park." Is that true?

BINOCHE: It's not that I - you know, I had already said yes to another project. But I wish that Spielberg was doing more films with women, you know, and less about war and less about, you know, all those conflicts in the male world. I wish that he was a little more going into the feminine side of the world because our feminine side is the hidden side, you know? And the two poles are in each of us, the masculine and the feminine side. We need an equilibrium that is not happening yet.

SIMON: Miss Binoche, I have to ask you, particularly after what you just said. As you know, Roman Polanski won the Cesar Award, the French Oscars, director for his new film "An Officer And A Spy." And there were many who objected, saying that that award dishonors women who have been sexually abused. Should a man who's confessed to sexual misconduct and been accused by a number of women of misconduct be nominated for an award?

BINOCHE: Well, it's a complex situation, and we have to keep the complexity. We cannot answer yes or no because I think that would be unfair to the situation. You know, Polanski has been judged. This needs to be really acknowledged as something that has been resolved by the justice. And there's no way - I mean, I am not the - I am not the kind of person who wants to cut people's heads. You know, the French Revolution is past. It's been a while. I think that you don't resolve things in killing people.

SIMON: Well - but you wouldn't be killing Roman Polanski. You'd merely not be nominating him for an award.

BINOCHE: Well, I didn't - you know what? I haven't voted at the Cesar for a while. And I didn't vote this year either. And I'm appalled to see that it's mainly so flat and mediocre that I'm not interested in that gathering anymore.

SIMON: Then I have to ask finally, if Roman Polanski said I have a role you'd be perfect for, would you work with him?

BINOCHE: You know, Roman Polanski asked me in a film a while ago, and the script wasn't good and I said no to it. So I'm avoiding your question that is quite dark.

SIMON: All right. Here's what I wrote for my last question (laughter). Well, the film underscores that it's hard to be the loved one of a legend - film legend, obviously, in this case, the character portrayed by Catherine Deneuve, who plays your mother. I wonder if you look into your own family and ever worry about that. You're certainly a legend in France - around the world.

BINOCHE: Well, I don't see myself as a legend. And I'm telling you my children certainly not - don't see me as a legend but as a real person who can cook and not cook or you know. So on a everyday basic life, I don't think that's the case. Now they have to find their own journey, you know? I have a very strong passion. But the - I trust they'll fly off and I wish them the best fly as possible.

SIMON: Juliette Binoche stars with Catherine Deneuve in the film "The Truth." Thank you so much for being with us.

BINOCHE: My pleasure. Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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