True Things – movie review

True Things is the sophomore feature for director Harry Wootliff, following 2018’s Only You.

Kate (played by Ruth Wilson, who also produced the film alongside Jude Law) is a self-destructive woman in her early thirties who works as a clerk in a government welfare office. She is insecure, lonely, and a little bored with her workplace and her dead-end job; she often arrives late, has a poor attitude towards her boss and is often sarcastic. But when she interviews ex-convict Blond (Tom Burke), who is applying for unemployment benefits, she falls heavily for his off-kilter charms and his slightly dangerous edge.

After some quick and dirty sex in the car park she begins a relationship with Blond, even though it’s against office rules. She’s obsessed with him despite the advice of her best friend Alison (Hayley Squires). And even though he treats her badly and wanders in and out of her life she is continually drawn towards him and is prepared to drop everything to be with him on short notice. But how far can she really trust him? Blond invites her to Spain to attend his sister’s wedding, but even then he seems distracted.

True Things is a character study is based on the 2010 novel True Things About Me, written by Welsh author Deborah Kay Davies, which examines love and obsession largely from a female perspective. The novel has been adapted to the screen by Wootliff and first-time feature writer Molly Davies. They retain the episodic structure of the source material, but it seems a bit repetitive after a while. The film deals with the toxic nature of sexual obsession, self-destructive behaviour, lust, gender dynamics and predatory abuse. Neither of the two characters are particularly likable.

The film is driven by two solid performances from its leads who bring the characters to life. There’s a palpable erotic chemistry between the two. Wilson is quite strong as Kate, imbuing the character with a mix of strength and vulnerability, while Burke (The Souvenir) brings a suitably rough edge and plenty of swagger to his portrayal of the enigmatic and manipulative bad boy Blond.

This is a low budget film that was shot during the pandemic. Cinematographer Ashley Connor (The Miseducation of Cameron Post) largely uses handheld cameras here, which suffuses the material with a sense of energy, but it also gives the film a sort of hallucinatory, dreamlike feel. Connor also works in close-up which gives the film a sense of intimacy, but she also uses the boxy 4:3 Academy ratio which becomes claustrophobic as it focuses intensely on Kate’s increasingly fragile mental state.

The title is somewhat ironic as Kate is something of an unreliable narrator. Despite the strong performances, the film’s third act is enigmatic, falls flat and felt unsatisfying.

Greg King

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