‘Truman’ Captures the Poignancy of Final Farewells

By Ali Hassan, Contributing Writer

 

Julian (Ricardo Darin) and Tomas (Javier Camara) are longtime friends who have not met each other in years. Julian has been diagnosed with cancer and, having experienced chemotherapy once before, decides to end his treatment and enjoy his remaining days of being alive. Tomas gets wind of Julian’s decision through the latter’s concerned cousin, Paula (Dolores Fonzi), and travels to Madrid from Canada to see his old friend.

 

You might think the rest of the film “Truman,” directed by Cesc Gay, is Tomas’ effort to convince Julian to continue chemotherapy. The two talk about just that early in the film, but after Julian makes his decision clear, they drop the subject altogether. Instead, they spend four days enjoying each other’s company, tying up Julian’s loose ends and awkwardly coming to terms with the fact that they’ll never see each other again.

 

The plot seems cliche, but it is executed surprisingly well. The film is interspersed with witty dialogue between the Julian and Tomas, who act excellently and draw you into what might otherwise been a very ordinary movie. It is amusing to see Tomas ask a mortuary salesman to itemize the various methods through which Julian can be sent off, or Javier throwing Tomas off guard by telling him they should immediately fly to Amsterdam to visit the former’s son followed by them actually going through with this impromptu idea.

 

In a film driven by characters, Julian is the most interesting. He is, after all, a man coming to terms with his impending death. Despite his confidence, he is not ready to die.

 

A significant portion of the film shows him and Tomas trying to find a suitable owner for the former’s dog, Truman, after whom the film is titled. Julian’s fear of dying before doing right by the people he cares about gives the film an unexpectedly urgent feeling. This is amplified by the fact that Tomas’ stay in Madrid is only to be four-days long. With every passing moment, the two are reminded that their time together is coming to an end very quickly. Yet, neither character wants to deal with the knowledge that they will have to say goodbye forever and, without giving too much away, the final scene exemplifies this. In doing so, the film captures their awkward, final moment together perfectly.

 

“Truman” is funny but not distasteful, and poignant but not overly sentimental. It may seem generic, but is remarkably well done and a movie worth watching.

 

“Truman” was released in theaters on A

 

Email Ali Hassan at film@nyunews.com.

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