Truman  (2015)    FilmRise/Comedy-Drama    RT: 108 minutes    No MPAA rating (language, sexual content, drug material, thematic elements)    Director: Cesc Gay    Screenplay: Tomas Aragay and Cesc Gay    Music: Nico Cota and Toti Soler    Cinematography: Andreu Rebes    Release date: April 21, 2017 (Philadelphia, PA)    Cast: Ricardo Darin, Javier Camara, Dolores Fonzi, Elvira Minguez, Oriol Pla, Alex Brendemuhl, Pedro Casablanc, Jose Luis Gomez, Javier Gutierrez Alvarez, Nathalie Poza, Agata Roca, Susi Sanchez, Silvia Abascal.      Spoken in Spanish w/English subtitles



 In Cesc Gray’s low-key comedy-drama Truman, a dying man goes about setting his affairs in order, an undertaking that includes finding a home for his aged dog, the lumbering mastiff that gives the movie its title. Oddly enough, the titular pooch gets precious little screen time. Truman mainly focuses on Julian (Darin, The Secret in Their Eyes), an actor in the final stages of terminal cancer. He knows the end is near and wants to go out on his own terms meaning he’s opted to discontinue chemo as, at this point, it only delays the inevitable.

truman-poster Not everybody is on board with his decision. His best friend Tomas (Camara, I’m So Excited) flies in from Montreal to try and talk some sense into him. He soon realizes it’s an exercise in futility; Julian has made up his mind, the only thing he can do is be there for him for a few days until he has to return home. Tomas accompanies Julian as he visits the veterinarian to ask if dogs grieve for lost loved ones. He spends more time there than he does at his own doctor’s office. Over the next four days, Julian goes around saying his goodbyes. He makes amends to people he wronged in the past like the old friend whose marriage he destroyed by sleeping with his wife. He and Tomas also take an impromptu trip to Amsterdam to visit Julian’s son Nico (Pla), a college student who doesn’t know he’s dying.

 While sad, Truman never gets mawkish or melodramatic. Julian invites sympathy rather than pity. We understand that, for him, it’s a matter of pride and dignity to leave this world on his own terms. He’s long since accepted his oncoming demise. In one scene, he even makes arrangements for his own funeral. Truman has its share of humor which makes sense because there’s a very fine line between laughing and crying. Darin turns in an excellent performance as Julian, a man who’s done some not-so-nice things in his life. He needs to make things as right as possible before he dies. Camara is also very good as Tomas, the friend who has a hard time expressing his feelings of grief. He loves his friend very much and isn’t ready to say goodbye.

 Cesc Gray makes great use of the Madrid locations. The muted cinematography is a perfect fit for the movie’s emotional restraint. Truman doesn’t delve too deeply into bigger issues like the right to die on one’s own terms. We don’t get any heated debates on the matter although a couple of characters make their feelings clear. Truman is also fairly predictable in terms of its final outcome. Let’s just say that it’s obvious where Truman will end up going. Even so, it’s still a fairly affecting drama about death and friendship. You may even shed a few tears but not because the screenwriters demand it. If you cry, it’ll be on your own terms. 

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