TRUMAN, drama, not rated, in Spanish with subtitles, The Screen, 3 chiles
Truman is the story of two men who must write the last chapter of a long friendship. A middle-aged theater actor in Madrid, Julián (Ricardo Darín) has decided to discontinue his chemotherapy treatment and instead accept death. Tomás ( Javier Cámara), who lives in Canada with his wife and children, visits him for four days, ostensibly to offer comfort and to say goodbye. Cesc Gay directs this end-of-life narrative with agility and welcome levity, though an awkward attempt to wedge in a romantic angle toward the end lessens the story’s poignancy.
Julián is separated from his wife. He sees himself as a romantic hero, though his flings, as we passingly find out, have caused at least one other couple to split up. Darín brings the right mix of vulnerability and charm to Julián’s character. However haphazardly Julián may have lived his life, he decides to face death on his own terms, which means not in a hospital. Julián tells Tomás that he has one other child (in addition to his college-going son who studies in Amsterdam) — his dog, Truman. Before he dies, Julián wants to place Truman with a caring family.
From this slim thread is hung the story of the last adventure of Julián and Tomás. Among their notable stops is a surprise visit to Amsterdam to celebrate the son’s birthday. On the flight there, the two friends bicker about whether Julián should tell his son about his imminent death (Tomás wants him to). In the end, Julián can’t bring himself to spoil his rare afternoon with his son. Back in Madrid, however, he learns from his ex-wife that his son already knows — the revelation is moving, with a comic edge.
Gay handles male bonding exceedingly well, but where he falters is with the character of Julián’s cousin, Paula (Dolores Fonzi), who, as Tomás sees it, is the point person for his care. However, we mostly see the cousins disagreeing, and even avoiding each other. Paula is a divorcée with a quick temper ( Julián puts it down to her “Italian blood.”). When, unexpectedly, Tomás spends his last night in Madrid with Paula, the unconvincing scene jars the otherwise haunting tone of this film. — Priyanka Kumar
Canine comrade: Javier Cámara and Ricardo Darín