WHO YOU THINK I AM
THREE AND A HALF STARS A 50 year old woman goes cat-fishing as a 24 year old version of herself.
Juliette Binoche, François Civil
DRAMA FRENCH LANGUAGE #WHOYOUTHINKIAM
When fifty-year old Claire decides to reinvent herself online as twenty-five year old Clara, WHO YOU THINK I AM opens up a challenging conversation that goes straight to the heart of our social media selves. Or at least, it tries. Safy Nebbou’s film doesn’t always achieve what it sets out to do, often veering into territory that is either cliched or lacking credibility. Yet if the over arching narrative - that a middle aged woman could catfish a 25 year old man - seems like a stretch, consider the terrifying story of a Queensland woman’s duplicity that ended in suicide. You couldn’t have made that story up up, and with results even more tragic than anything Nebbou has in mind.
Thus we meet Claire (Juliette Binoche) who, in conversations with with her shrink (Nicole Garcia), reveals she’s not coping: not with being fifty, not with the loss of her husband (he ran off with a younger woman), not her own rebound boyfriend (also younger, and now walking backwards out of the door) nor, by extension, her diminished sense of self. With her identity in pieces, she decides to create a new one - Clara - who’s a fashion intern half her age. Why? In the hope of cat fishing the now ex-boyfriend to teach him a lesson. Instead she accidentally traps his dishy house-mate (François Civil) in her deceit, and an online romance blossoms.
Binoche turns in yet another terrific performance as both Claire and Clara, convincingly dropping years (decades) when she assumes her younger self. She walks differently, talks differently - a change that’s not lost on her ex-husband nor her psychiatrist. Such is the power of her presence, coupled with Gilles Porte’s attractively layered cinematography, distract from any narrative shortcomings. Nebbou's adaptation of Camille Laurens' novel tends to the heavy handed and obvious as he tries to line up his points.
That aside, WHO YOU THINK I AM is still a cracking thriller about an unbalanced woman, and an appealing entry into a burgeoning genre that forces questions about digital identity.