Film review: Who You Think I Am

Juliette Binoche is outstanding as a divorced academic and author who searches for excitement on a social network site that blurs truth and fiction in the absorbing French film Who You Think I Am.

Aug 01, 2019, updated Aug 01, 2019

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Camille Laurens and returning to Palace Cinemas after first screening during the French Film Festival earlier this year, Who You Think I Am (Celle Que Vous Croyez) intrigues from the opening images.

The camera continually focuses in close-up on Binoche, so the viewer sees every reaction in minute detail; through her subtle, nuanced performance, we understand her character’s emotions and thought processes, her difficulties, dilemmas, aspirations and disappointments. Few actors could be the subject of such intense focus and provide as much variety of facial expressions and idiosyncrasies.

There are several threads woven through the film, which sees 50-something university lecturer Claire Millaud (Binoche) create a fictional Facebook profile posing as a much younger woman. We witness her talking with a psychologist, played almost clinically by Nicole Garcia; her initial excitement when she takes a lover, and her thrill in contacting a younger man who responds to her enigmatic texts.

François Civil portrays Alex, the handsome subject of Claire’s affection, as a sensitive, loving man genuinely hurt by being teased.

As the story develops, the drama heightens as it becomes less clear what is real, what is virtual and what is fantasy. It is a gripping and absorbing piece of cinema as Claire’s journey unfolds and she suffers over being invisible and reluctant to reveal her true self.

Who You Think I Am explores the early stages of a new relationship, how it can inspire, excite, distract and confuse, but also how it can hurt and disappoint.

Writer-director Safy Nebbou and co-writer Julie Peyr continually keep the audience guessing as to what is really happening between the two key characters, leaving us wondering to the end what direction Claire’s life will take.

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