“Who You Think I Am” (M) ****
NO, I haven’t left a principal verb out of the title for this dramatic French film. Two subordinate verbs should be enough to generate curiosity. And a little pondering will reveal that the title is not a question – it’s an answer.
So what’s the question?
Director Safy Nebbou’s filming of his own adaptation of Camille Laurens’s novel portrays a woman dealing with emotional damage following a divorce brought on by her husband’s infidelity with a younger woman whom the couple had reared after her parents died in a car crash.
Got that back story? It’s less complex than it looks. Claire lectures in the literature department of a French university. At 50, with two adult sons, her choice of lover to fill the gap is not working well. Ludo is a wham bam thank you ma’am sort of guy who’s also playing away with a younger woman. Now, there’s a possibility for Claire to ease her erotic cravings and wreak a little vengeance.
The story has reached a significant narrative point. Claire creates a fake Facebook profile, Clara, whom she dangles in front of Ludo who doesn’t take the bait. But his flat-mate Alex sees the post and gets a bit smitten.
“Who You Think I Am” has an erotic energy that doesn’t need display of erogenous zones to drive its emotional core. Its power derives more from words and ideas than from actions. And that deceit gives it a sublime flavour.
Playing Claire/Clara, Juliette Binoche, at age 55, projects a breathtaking loveliness in a performance full of awareness.
Categorising “Who You Think I Am” poses enough options to satisfy any vigorous curiosity. It’s romantic. It’s a message about truthfulness. It’s an intelligent observation of women’s sexuality. It answers the question, “what is there after orgasm passes?” And bestriding it like a female colossus is Binoche, a performance to be savoured and remembered.
At Palace Electric