Tru Love tells the tale of Tru (played by co-writer/ director Shauna MacDonald) and the conflict which arises from an unexpected lesbian relationship developing between her and her friend’s mother.
Widowed Alice has come to stay with her daughter Suzanne in Toronto. Suzanne, being the kind of busy lawyer who barely has time to buy furniture, lives in an enormous empty house which is a paean to minimalism. She asks her lesbian friend Tru to look after her mother as a favour until she gets home which she agrees to.
Suzanne’s house is clearly intended to make us realise she is both affluent and desperately lonely. There is clearly also some kind of history between Suzanne and the commitment phobic Tru, even if they are on friendly but slightly stilted terms. They talk about catching up with a coffee in the way people do when they definitely have no godly plan on earth to do so.
The film is about people connecting, and finding connections. Sometimes this is done desperately, angrily, jealously. Rather heart-breakingly Alice is accompanied in her silent solo moments by the presence of her dead husband, clearly conversing with her imagination in a presence made solid and human. Her relationship with her daughter is fractured and almost inversed, finding herself the naughty child and Suzanne taking the part of the stern parent.
It is a pressure cooker of a relationship which of course finally does come to a head. Tru and Alice of course find they enjoy each other’s company and they continue seeing each other for several days, getting closer and closer until Suzanne’s jealousy causes her to step in.
As touching as the film is, this action by Suzanne is the only thing causing much of a central dramatic drive to the movie. In many ways Alice’s delight in being made to feel alive again by her relationship with Tru is the crest of a wave which we, and the other characters in the story, are carried along by – a low key thrust to a very nice but ultimately low key movie. Despite a beautiful central performance from Shauna MacDonald as Tru and strong back up from Kate Trotter as Alice and Christine Horne as Suzanne, this low key nature makes things slightly underwhelming. Only slightly though.
A final twist comes after the majority tale has been heart-warmingly told and could, with some justification, be seen as a moment of deus ex machina in the way it contrives the plot to wrap things up with some extra unecessary drama. But structurally it works, if not entirely satisfyingly.
Toronto in the winter looks stunning, the cinematography is superb – the framing of shots, the call backs to visual images set up earlier to indicate weather and time change work splendidly. The shots which start and pepper the film of tides lapping the shoreline with broken ice crashing from the water onto the beach, serve as a handy visual metaphor for the story. Relationships thaw, ice is broken.
Spending time with this movie is by no means time wasted – it is a charming, and very simple story of people finding each other, simply told. It is very sweet. There is something nice about watching characters being happy, even if it doesn’t provoke high drama. The characters have life beyond the screen; the dialogue seems real in their mouths. And it is wonderful, to have three strong female characters at the centre of a film.
There is no question that Shauna MacDonald is the star of the piece though. Her eyes tell stories.
Previously posted on cinetalk.co.uk