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IFI French Film Festival 2019 Review - WHO YOU THINK I AM

who you think i am review
Assuming her niece's identity, a middle-aged woman seduces a younger man online.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Safy Nebbou

Starring: Juliette Binoche, Nicole Garcia, FranΓ§ois Civil, Marie-Ange Casta, Guillaume Gouix

who you think i am poster





Who You Think I Am opens with one of the most over-employed visual clichΓ©s of modern cinema, a woman lying below the waterline of her bath, deep in thought, a motif lazily used to signify a troubled character. It's a sign of things to come in writer/director Safy Nabbou's adaptation of Camille Laurens' novel, which takes the same ham-fisted approach to exploring "the dangers of the internet" as Jason Reitman's luddite polemic Men, Women and Children.


who you think i am review

"For people like me, social media is both the shipwreck and the life raft." So says fifty-something French professor Claire (Juliette Binoche) in a rare moment of insight from an otherwise cack-handed script. Recently divorced, her husband (Charles Berling) having left her for a younger woman (how French), Claire decides what's good for the goose is good for the gander and begins seeing a younger man herself. The relationship dissolves quickly when her young lover, Ludo (Guillaume Gouix), stops answering her calls.

[ READ MORE: IFI French Film Festival 2019 Review - Farewell to the Night ]

Setting up a fake Facebook profile using a blurry shot of her pretty niece Katia (Marie-Ange Casta), Claire, now under the alias 'Clara', attempts to contact Ludo on line, but he declines her friend request. Instead, Claire/Clara is contacted by Alex (François Civil), Ludo's sensitive photographer friend. Claire continues her Clara ruse, claiming she is a 24-year-old at a fashion house and adding more pictures and videos of Katia. Alex and Clara's relationship progresses quickly, with the two indulging in phone sex (one of the movie's more giggle-inducing scenes). But when Alex arrives unexpectedly in Paris, planning to meet up with Clara in person, Claire realises she has hit a crossroads.


who you think i am review

Only a Frenchman could make a movie as laughably earnest as Who You Think I Am. It's all played very, very seriously, but it's so shallow in its construction that it's impossible to tune into its sombre wavelength. For a start, Binoche is ridiculously miscast as an incel who believes she may never get laid again, and when we see her with Alex, it's the latter we feel is batting above his average. As this is set in a middle class Parisian milieu, of course Claire relates her story to a therapist (Nicole Garcia), who spends most of their sessions nodding sagely rather than shaking her client furiously and reminding her that she looks like Juliette Binoche!

[ READ MORE: IFI French Film Festival 2019 Review - Lullaby ]

Things get particularly silly when Claire pens a story in which she imagines approaching Alex on a bus and subsequently embarking on an affair that escalates to him moving into her spacious apartment on the banks of the Seine. Nebbou weaves this into a film within a film, one that climaxes with a hilarious nod to Final Destination. Jazz musician Ibrahim Maalouf's Alexandre Desplat-alike score takes itself as seriously as the rest of the movie, and its solemn notes only underscore how up its own arse Nebbou's film is.


who you think i am review

There's an intriguing movie to be mined from this subject, but I can't help but suspect this is territory that might be more astutely explored by a filmmaker closer to its subject, i.e. a middle-aged woman who knows what it's like to hit a certain age if you don't have the luxury of resembling Juliette Binoche. A little knowledge of how the internet actually functions wouldn't go astray either, as it's impossible to believe Alex would be taken in by Claire's ill-thought out scheme.

A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.




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