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Saturday 25 April 2020

Who You Think I Am

Tonight I book ‘Who You Think I Am’ through Curzon Home Cinema. It’s a subtitled French film, adapted from the novel by Camille Laurens, and for the first time I’m seeing our TV as perhaps too small e.g. I’m struggling to read the subtitles on it.

Claire Millaud (Juliette Binoche) is a divorcee with two children, who teaches literature and we see her analysing ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ with her class. She is seeing a therapist Dr Catherine Bormans (Nicole Garcia) whom she tells that she feels invisible to society now that she is in her fifties but this is a little misleading.

Despite claiming to be ‘invisible to society’ Claire is in a sexual relationship with a much younger man, Ludo (Guillaume Gouix). Yes he is basically using her for sex and doesn’t want to get romantically involved with her but it’s hardly being ‘invisible’. Clearly he finds her desirable and it’s hard to imagine Binoche herself struggling on this front. However, that’s perhaps not the point. Claire clearly has issues, hence the therapist.

One evening Ludo starts ghosting her, leaving his flatmate Alex (François Civil) to field
her phone calls. Her response to being so unceremoniously dumped is to create a fake online profile as a 24-year-old fashion intern called Clara, complete with stolen profile pictures and to then sends a friend request to Alex with a view to stalking Ludo. Pictures that later turn out to be of her niece, whom her husband left her for.

When Alex starts communicating with her, she becomes more and more obsessed with him and he with the image she portrays of herself. Soon they are texting and talking on the phone but for obvious reasons she refuses to meet him.

Their online relationship throws up a rather large plot flaw. That neither of them proposes to turn their cameras on when they chat or, hey, maybe download Zoom. To be fair they probably hadn't heard of Zoom when they filmed this, as hardly anyone had until a few weeks ago.

As Alex grows every insistent on meeting, Claire decides to call off the relationship rather than risk him being disappointed with her middle-aged self but then who’s to say that if they had met who’s to say she wouldn’t have pulled another young boy. Which is where the film goes in an imagined alternative finale which is submitted to her therapist as a manuscript.

In this the real Claire meets Alex post-Clara and they have a full blown relationship. Claire however still doubt herself even in her own fantasy and revives the Clara persona to test his live for her. This has tragic results, that ends up which Claire in an institution for mental disorders and I haven’t even mentioned what supposedly happened to the real Alex after Clara dumped him.

It’s an intriguing film that may or may not be having an almighty dig at social media and the alternative images of themselves that almost everyone creates online but Claire, I’m sure you realise that being young is wasted on the young. With hindsight and experience us oldies are just so much better at it.

(Saturday 25th April)

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