It’s possible Tru Love could have been made had Kate Johnston and Shauna MacDonald never met. But it would have been less of a film — literally. Johnston had already written the first draft when the pair first connected on the patio of a Toronto pub. But at that point, she intended it to be a short. When she offered MacDonald the lead role a few weeks later over coffee, MacDonald immediately agreed, but on one condition: she wanted to turn the film into a feature.
Johnston went back to the writing room, this time with MacDonald in tow, and began fleshing out the story.
“The script evolved, devolved and then evolved again,” MacDonald says. “At one point, it nearly became a Hallmark movie, which we both hated. We had no money and thought of selling the script but realized we’d likely lose control of the project. So we dug in our heels and decided to make it ourselves.”
Tru Love pairs two common tropes: the love triangle and the May-December romance. Tru (MacDonald) is a bed-hopping, 30-something dyke. When her hardworking lawyer friend Suzanne (Christine Horne) is stuck at work, she offers to meet Suzanne’s mother, Alice (Kate Trotter), who’s coming for a weeklong visit. But when Alice and Tru embark on an unexpected fling, Suzanne becomes oddly jealous.
While tales of love across an age gap are nothing new, the film puts a unique twist on the well-worn genre.
“There are a million versions of this story with older men and younger women but very few of the reverse, much less lesbian versions,” Johnston says. “I did love The Hunger, though. Catherine Deneuve’s character was hundreds of years older than Susan Sarandon, but being a vampire helped with that sexy, timeless look.”