“Truman,” this month’s presentation by Fresno Filmworks, is an emotional and fascinating examination of the way men often reluctantly show their emotions. The expression is often buried so deeply that it only truly manifests itself in what normally would be considered an inconsequential action.
Noted Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin plays Julian, a noted performer who has been fighting lung cancer for a year. His best friend, Tomas (Javier Camara), finally makes the journey from his home in Toronto to Madrid to visit.
Tomas learns that Julian has decided to forgo any future treatments because he doesn’t want to spend his final days in a hospital. The best friends spend their time together making arrangements for Julian’s death.
Films that feature someone dying can easily slide into sentimentality and melancholy. Director and co-writer Cesc Gay avoids an endless barrage of overly sentimental moments by focusing on the subtle way these men relate to one other.
It is obvious through the performances by Darin and Camara that these are two men who have developed a brotherly love through their years of friendship. Because of macho thinking, though, neither ever feels fully free to express their true feelings for the other.
It is obvious through the performances by Ricardo Darin and Javier Camara that these are two men who have developed a brotherly love through their years of friendship. Because of macho thinking, though, neither ever feels fully free to express their true emotion for the other.
Besides, a full disclosure would have sent the movie on the spiral of sentimentality. Instead, Gay allows the men to show their feelings in less obvious ways. It’s this quiet display of emotion that makes “Truman” such a heart-tugging pleasure to watch.
Julian comes across as resigned and content as he deals with issues such as setting up his own funeral arrangements. He even holds in his emotions when meeting with his son for what very well could be the last time.
Gay only allows Julian to truly reveal himself when he’s dealing with his faithful dog, Truman. The first time Julian cries is when he’s talked into allowing Truman to spend the night with a potential new owner. He doesn’t even show this kind of emotion when saying farewell to the humans in his life.
The movie’s conclusion has Julian using Truman to reveal the emotions he has kept hidden away. It’s a scene that is powerful and moving without resorting to melodrama. Truman becomes a symbol for the feelings the two men share. The scene works so well because Gay understands that men often only share their feelings in less-than-direct ways. There’s no doubt these two men love each other as if they were born of the same mother, but they both stumble when trying to express what they feel.
Instead, Gay lets Julian and Tomas show their feelings toward each other through awkward verbal jabs. Hidden in their dialogue are messages as strong as any tale that embraces sentimentality with a death grip. This more subtle approach is far more moving. It makes more powerful the few moments when both men let down their guards and reveal what they are truly feeling.
Gay’s decision to play this film with a manly quiet screams volumes about brotherly love, commitment and family. It’s also a beautiful way to talk about emotions without talking about emotions.
Cast: Ricardo Darin, Javier Camara, Dolores Foed
Director: Cesc Gay
Rating: NR (sexual content)
Opens: 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Dec. 9
In Spanish with English subtitles