How closely had you followed the work of actors like Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve, and Ethan Hawke? When crafting the script, did you draw at all from their careers to date?
Yes. I have always been a fan of Catherine Deneuve and Ethan Hawke as well. So much so that in 2015 when I made the decision to set the film in France, the very first page of the film, I wrote, “Catherine Deneuve is the mother, Juliette Binoche is her daughter, and Ethan Hawke is her husband.” And so my dream casting came through, and I’m thrilled. I literally wrote the script for them for each of those.
You’ve often told stories from the perspective of working-class (or in the case of “Shoplifters,” very impoverished) family dynamics. The characters in “The Truth” feel like your most, for lack of a better word, privileged set of characters. What did you want to explore with a family dynamic in such a different class realm?
I honestly wasn’t really conscious or aware of any kind of differing dynamics between sort of the more impoverished family and wealthy family in this film. I was interested in exploring the fundamental simmering difficulties and complexities between a mother and a daughter. And I would imagine that those kinds of tensions exist regardless of economic class position, of course.
What did you want to express about the mother/daughter dynamic between Deneuve and Binoche?
So, as we know, perfect is not something that they only do on stage certainly. Many of us perform our familiar role. Women can “perform” being a mother, “perform” being a daughter. I was interested in having, as Deneuve is performing in the film within the film, elements of her daily life start to seep into that performance, and performing elements start to seep into her actual life. With the intermingling of those two elements, we start to see the tension between the mother and the daughter somewhat soften and start to shift. That’s what I was interested in portraying.