The curse of consciousness is the realization that at one point or another we’re going to have to face the notion of our own mortality. Not everyone knows when their time is going to come, but some are forced to face the frightening notion of their own mortality when confronted with a deadly disease. What if you had to watch from the sidelines as your best friend abandons and proceeds to make the plans necessary for his eventual death? That’s the central idea behind Truman, the new film from director Cesc Gay. Truman is a blend of comedy and drama with real heart and a number of moments that tug mightily on the heartstrings as it examines the central friendship of its story in the direst of circumstances.
Tomás (Javier Cámara) lives in Canada but has just flown back to Spain to visit his friend Julián (Ricardo Darín). Though it’s an unexpected visit, the two old friends know what has brought Tomás back – he’s here to talk Julián into restarting the medical treatments that he’s recently foregone. There’s nothing to make Julián rethink his decision, no medical advice or estimates of time that’ll bring him to another round of chemotherapy. Instead Julián subjects his best friend to a series of awkward events, ranging from making arrangements for his beloved dog Truman to shopping for urns and caskets for his eventual funeral. With only four days together, Julián and Tomás will have only a short time to laugh, cry, and confront some uncomfortable truths about themselves.
When Julián is interviewing prospective owners for his beloved Truman does the film really start to pull on your heartstrings. Ricardo Darín without saying a word invoke large doses of empathy for his character as the fatal condition he’s afflicted with is forcing him to separate from a dog that has become his closest companion. Even though he’s bound to see the dog again, it breaks your heart when says goodbye to his canine companion when leaving him overnight with a family of possible adopters.
Truman doesn’t rely simply on the relationship between man and dog to get an emotional response. The screenplay by Tomàs Aragay and Cesc Gay creates a dynamic between the two central characters where they are close friends that haven’t seen each other in a while and haven’t really missed a beat. They take an impromptu trip to Amsterdam to visit Julián’s son Nico (Oriol Pla) at college with the intention of Julián telling his son of his illness. That, however, never happens. It’s not that Julián can’t muster the courage, it’s just that sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to bring up heartbreaking topics in a moment of warmth. That’s a theme that runs through Truman, as Tomás arrived with the intention of having a number of deep conversations with Julián that never come to pass.
With its sad subject matter, Truman brought forth the tears but never allows the viewer to feel despair. A key reason for that is the characters themselves never succumb to despair. Cesc Gay’s film has a number of twists and turns that keep you invested in these characters and connect to their emotional responses. Truman is a movie that looks at some of the saddest parts of life but never lets you lose the warmth of the feeling of friendship.
- Overall Score
A funny, moving look at friendship in the face of a terminal illness, Cesc Gay’s Truman tugs on the heartstrings with a warm story of best friends reunited under the worst possible circumstances.