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Spain/Argentina 2015
Directed by
Cesc Gay
108 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
4 stars


Synopsis: Julian (Ricardo Darín) is a middle-aged actor living in Madrid who has been diagnosed with cancer and decides not to continue with his chemotherapy as it will only prolong the inevitable. His childhood friend Tomas (Javier Cámara) with whom he grew up in Argentina, comes for an unexpected visit from Canada where he now lives. The pair reignite their friendship and spend several precious days reminiscing, putting Julian's affairs in order and auditioning possible new owners for Julian’s beloved dog, Truman.

There is much to love about this film which successfully straddles the line between comedy and drama. It's rare that a film so convincingly depicts the openness and depth of a long-term male friendship and it’s a credit to both actors who have won awards in the Goyas and San Sebastian festivals that they manage to engage us deeply on an emotional level without ever giving in to maudlin sentiment.

Darín, a much-lauded Argentinian actor (many will know him from The Secret in Their Eyes, is mesmerising as a man determined not to be talked into resuming chemo by his old friend or his loving sister, Paula (Dolores Fonzi), despite the fear and sadness he feels. In the face of impending death he nevertheless manages to evoke plenty of humour. He also embarks upon the mission of setting past wrongs to right including apologies to a husband with whose wife he once had an affair.

Although Almodovar regular Javier Cámara has a support role (both as an actor and within the film) his low-key performance as Julian's unquestioningly supportive friend is a winning counterpoint in the film's persuasive dynamic particularly as he experiences his own emotional turmoil as he bids his friend farewell.

The auditions for a possible future carer for Truman also provide plenty of offbeat humour as does a darkly funny scene in which the choosing of a coffin makes for a shopping expedition with a difference.  A more important loose end that really needs addressing is Julian’s distant relationship with his adult son, Nico (Oriel Pla), who lives in Amsterdam. Tomas lovingly plots the reunion between father and son and these scenes make for some of the film’s most touching moments.  

Truman eschews gloom yet still manages to provoke thought about a subject of much relevance to us all especially in these days of debate about people’s rights to choose how they exit the world. This gentle film is a real joy, giving us characters with whom it is a privilege to spend a couple of hours as they navigate one of the most important times in life that friends can share together.   




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