Tru Love follows Tru (Shauna MacDonald, also co-director), a 30-something lesbian and her unlikely friendship with widow, Alice (Kate Trotter). If I could say only one thing about this film, it’s that it does exactly what it says on the box, and that box reads: “Widow Alice, visits workaholic daughter, befriends commitment-phobic lesbian Tru.” There are almost no surprises in this film, it’s predictable, average in many respects – but there is something so small and sweet about it, it’s actually hard to fault too much.
Firstly, the film is very beautifully shot. Not in any grand sense, but all the sets are light and stylistic. There is something lovely about it being set in the middle of the Canadian winter, we see several shots of the two leads sitting on beach chairs under an umbrella while it snows around them. In contrast to this, the music was jarring at times, much of it seeming out of place. It’s interesting to see just how much impact the music had on the overall ‘quality’ of the film and it’s a shame it wasn’t handled better. But, other than that, the film makes sense stylistically. It doesn’t do anything particularly amazing, but it does enough and gets it right.
There are only fleeting appearances by men in the film (I am quietly pleased by this), and there are really only three main characters. Tru, Alice and Alice’s workaholic, distant daughter, Suzanne. Some of the confusion from the film comes from the fact that we’re meant to believe Suzanne isn’t a full blown lesbian. She is a high powered lawyer with that haircut. Not fooling anyone. Tru as a character is a Classic Lesbian Stud. She is a womanizer. She is terrible at maintaining relationships. She has a troubled past. She’s great in bed.1 Tru lives on an island? Is she isolated? Does she have trust issues? I see what you did there. This classic trope has been done, yes, but it also works. Though done relatively clumsily here, the film still manages to get away with it.
Kate Trotter is exquisite as Alice. She is the heart of the film. She’s so classy and honest and there is something nice about the way she speaks. I think if it were not for Alice – and I think much to do with Trotter’s portrayal of her – my feelings towards the film would not be so tender. She is the highlight, without a doubt. It’s nice to see an older woman explore her sexuality in a way not handled gently. The representation of that kind of sexuality is nice. Tru Love does by no means do this as successfully as Mike Mills’ Beginners (2010), but it doesn’t set out to anything as large scale or as broad. There is something powerful about an older woman just trying things out quietly.
There is something nice about a film that is small. That aims to do certain things, achieves those things, and then finishes. There is something relatively superficial about it all, something that smaller, independent films often have. But it is well intentioned without being worthy. In terms of where this film fits in the queer cinema canon, it would really be left with all those other vaguely lezzie films that are fine but not revolutionary. If you are familiar with the canon – Tru Love is much better than Loving Annabelle but nowhere near as good as Imagine Me and You.
I don’t have it in my heart to give this film a bad review. I didn’t love it. It’s not amazing. But it’s nice. It didn’t make me hugely frustrated. It aimed to do hit a few notes and it did that, and I admire it for that achievement. I don’t think it would be possible to be hugely disappointed by this film, either. Again, it does exactly what it says on the box, and it does those things well.