WHO YOU THINK I AM (CELLE QUE VOUS CROYEZ) (2019)
Starring Juliette Binoche, François Civil, Nicole Garcia, Marie-Ange Casta, Guillaume Gouix, Charles Berling, Jules Houplain, Jules Gauzelin, Francis Leplay, Pierre Giraud, Sonia Mohammed Cherif, François Genty and Claude Perron.
Screenplay by Safy Nebbou and Julie Peyr.
Directed by Safy Nebbou.
Distributed by Cohen Media Group. 101 minutes. Not Rated.
The internet has certainly changed the way people relate in the modern world. The anonymity of the person behind the keyboard has made any relationship online perilous – is the person you are chatting with really who they claim they are?
The French thriller and character study Who You Think I Am looks at this phenomenon. It takes as its heroine an aging teacher who starts catfishing a younger man – through insecurity and a slight obsession – and completely blows up her entire world.
Yet, her motivation is a lot deeper than just being some pervy creep on the web.
Claire (Juliet Binoche) is a 50-something intellectual and mother of two. Her husband has recently left her for a younger woman, and she is feeling lost. She is still quite beautiful, but now she knows that people always are going to affix the proviso “for her age.” So, she has thrown herself into a series of cougar-esque affairs with younger guys like Ludo (Guillaume Gouix).
The problem is she always takes it much more seriously than they do – they are mostly looking for sex – and it ends up dragging her self-esteem even lower.
Claire first encounters Alex (François Civil), a friend of Ludo, when he picks up Ludo’s cell when she calls. Ludo uses Alex to help him ghost her. Desolate, Claire tracks down Alex on Facebook and starts to follow him under a fake identity, using photos of a younger woman. Claire is only planning to spy on what Ludo is up to since he has blocked her on Facebook, but soon Alex instant messages her. They start to chat, and soon Ludo is pretty much forgotten. She is falling for Alex.
The problem is pretty obvious, though. She’s a good 20-30 years older than the woman in the pictures – and her life story is much different than the fictitious life story she has created for her profile. She can pull off phone chats – and soon they are calling each other regularly on a burner phone she has purchased for this – but if he ever sees her, the gig would be up. Particularly since the pictures she has been using are not quite as random as she originally claims.
Can she expect him to fall in love with her once she sees what she really looks like? Or for that matter, once he realizes she has been lying to him from the start?
Eventually things fall apart when Alex insists on meeting up with her. Claire tries to tell him the truth, but he looks right past her. Later in the year, after his social media has disappeared, Claire runs into Ludo who says that Alex committed suicide because of some girl he fell in love with on the internet.
Who You Think I Am proceeds with a backdrop of Claire’s fraying mental health. Specifically, much of the story is related by Claire to her psychiatrist Dr. Bormans (Nicole Garcia) in a series of therapy sessions.
Even when, as an exercise for Dr. Bormans, Claire writes a revised history of how things should have gone with her and Alex, she still feels the need to sabotage herself in the end.
As much as anything, Who You Think I Am is a fascinating character study, watching a smart and successful woman become obsessed and undone by someone that she really doesn’t know. It affects her relationship with children, affects her job, and affects her mental health.
When you finish watching, you still don’t quite understand why Claire has done what she has done, however you more than likely will feel a certain amount of sympathy for her plight. She is not a bad person, nor someone who was meaning to cause harm, she is just someone who has lost faith in herself, and therefore tries to be someone else for a while.
Copyright ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 3, 2021.