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When Tomas (Javier Cámara) arrives in Madrid from Canada to surprise his old friend Julian (Ricardo Darín) it’s hardly a surprise.

Julian recently announced he was giving up on his treatment for lung cancer, but while Tomas is obviously there to do his best to change his mind, he knows his friend too well to push hard.

Instead, he spends his four-day stay watching as Julian attempts to put his business (he’s an actor who’s still performing on stage) and personal affairs in order – and perhaps most importantly, tries to find a future home for his dog, a large boxer named Truman.

Darin gives a first rate performance as a man facing death, handling some things with ease (planning his funeral, telling his doctor he’s done with treatment) while others – most notably a chance encounter with a fellow actor whose wife he once slept with – rattle him to his core. Spanish writer/director Cesc Gay (A Gun in Each Hand) skilfully balances humour and pathos, providing plenty of emotionally direct moments while never letting the mood become dour.

Though if you’re expecting a film about a dog, be warned: while Julian’s efforts to find him a home are a running sub-plot, naming the film after him is a definite red herring.

Reviewed by Anthony Morris