A sluggish start doesn’t stop Cesc Gay’s latest film from being a thoughtful character study about friendship and the things we leave behind over the course of our lives. The brilliant Spanish actor Javier Cámara, one of the stable of regulars of the great Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar and star of his films Talk to Her and I’m So Excited, stars as Tomas, a college professor living in Canada who travels to Madrid to visit an old friend, actor Julian (Ricardo Darin). The Truman in question is a dog, Julian’s boxer, who dislikes Tomas, almost as if he sees a rival for Julian’s affections.
This is no ordinary visit however; Julian is facing aggressive terminal cancer, and has decided to forego treatment doctors say will only prolong the inevitable. Immediately upon Tomas’s arrival, Julian suspects that his friend has arrived in order to convince him to continue treatment, and quickly asserts that his mind will not be changed. Tomas appears to accept this, and says he will stay in Madrid for four days. What happens over those four days is a subtle and convincing drama, at times amusing and sad, as the friends attempt to recapture old times and tie up loose ends before Julian’s death.
Gay wisely chooses to discard tropes of melodrama or emotional manipulation with music, allowing each new scene to create its own mood and influence the audience naturally. The two leads have a lived-in chemistry, and easily shoulder the burden of exhibiting a lifetime’s worth of friendship in under two hours. Before eventually reaching an assured pace that feels neither rushed nor dull, Truman does take a while to establish itself, confusingly moving from snowy Canada to nondescript Madrid streets with little explanation or context for the characters. Despite this, however, the film strengthened by an excellent supporting cast, and remains a moving drama that both entertains and invites thought.
Truman is released in selected cinemas on 6th May 2016.
Watch the trailer for Truman here: