The Movie Waffler New to MUBI - TRUE THINGS | The Movie Waffler


true things review
A frustrated woman falls for an emotionally elusive man.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Harry Wootliff

Starring: Ruth Wilson, Tom Burke, Hayley Squires, Tom Weston-Jones

true things poster

Something of a working class companion to The Souvenir, director Harry Wootliff's True Things once again sees a vulnerable and naïve woman taken advantage of by a charming rogue played by Tom Burke. It's a far more conventional piece of British realism than Joanna Hogg's film however, and like so many slices of British realism, it's carried along by the strength of its central performances.

true things review

The glamorous Ruth Wilson is perhaps a tad miscast as Kate, a thirtysomething terrified of being left on the shelf. Kate seems to have an innocence more becoming a woman half her age, but there are suggestions that she's made her share of mistakes. She just doesn't seem to have learned from them. She works as a benefits claims officer, a job arranged by her best friend Alison (Hayley Squires), but she's constantly getting in trouble for her lack of interest in the role.

One afternoon Kate's work suddenly gets interesting when a handsome ex-convict (Burke) walks in looking to sign on. The man, whom the film will only refer to as "Blond", seems more interested in Kate than in getting his payment sorted, and even asks her out to lunch. Kate politely declines his offer, which would be in violation of her job's rules, but she's intrigued nonetheless. Before departing, Blond tells her she should leave the office and eat her lunch on a bench. Kate's reaction suggests it's the first piece of advice she's received from someone that's designed to improve her life in quite a while.

true things review

Later, when she leaves work, Kate finds Blond waiting for her. Barely exchanging words, the two have a sexual encounter in a nearby car park, the first of several such engagements in the coming weeks. But as Kate falls for Blond, he begins to retreat from her advances. At one point he borrows her car and disappears for a week, but he has a well rehearsed routine of making Kate seem like the crazy one for questioning his suspicious behaviour.

True Things is by no means the first movie to feature a woman falling victim to a charming cad, but there's something distinctively modern about Wootliff's interpretation of this age old narrative. Like most people of her generation, Kate's life is filled with uncertainty. She's working a job she hates because the alternative is moving in with her overbearing parents. She's desperate to find a soulmate but the men Alison sets her up with are obsessed with their careers, with one guy turning down sex from Kate because they're in his "work car," the big plonker. What's enticing about Blond is that he doesn't seem to share any of Kate's millennial anxieties, unburdened by the prospect of failure and disappointment. He lives a life of freedom, but of course, it's at other people's expense.

true things review

Despite her movie star looks, Wilson fully convinces in the role of Kate. It's a portrayal of someone with mental health issues that never relies on any tics. Kate's frustrations are clear to see not through Wilson's actions but how she conceals so much from the world and the audience, turning her head away as though her character is aware of a camera's presence and doesn't want any potential breakdown captured. Wootliff's camera often takes up a voyeuristic placement, which adds to our discomfort at helplessly watching Kate's manipulation at the cruel and controlling hands of Blond. True Things isn't saying anything new or revolutionary, but a lot of viewers of its protagonist's generation may find it uncomfortably representative of their lot in life.

True Things is on MUBI UK now.

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