LFF 2021 film review: True Things
Ivan Radford | On 11, Oct 2021
Director: Harry Wootliff
Cast: Ruth Wilson, Tom Burke
Where to watch True Things online in the UK: London Film Festival
True Things is streaming at the 2021 London Film Festival. Find out more about how the festival works and what else is playing online here.
Relationships can be the best and worst thing in life. The same can be true of being single. Either might hold the promise of escape and excitement or the risk of being trapped in tedium. What if, though, the thing you’re trying to escape is yourself? That’s the question that True Things confronts head-on, as it dives into the limbo of one woman’s dissatisfied life, as she tries to find some order amid the chaos.
Ruth Wilson is fantastic as Kate, who works at the benefits office but is on the verge of being fired for repeated lateness and pretend sick days. Her kitchen cupboards are typically bare, her diet mostly involves alcohol and she’s not really sure who she is yet. When she meets a Blond man, Tom (Burke), at work who asks her out, she takes his rebellious streak, his rude frankness and his outward confidence and pours it into that void.
We can tell from the moment they meet that theirs is a bad romance, from their sudden, passionate encounter in a car park to his noncommittal availability and evasive communication. But there’s no doubting the allure that Tom Burke’s mysterious stranger has. That’s partly thanks to Blond’s almost cruel, flirtatious presence, which Burke wields with a disarming certainty. But it’s also because of Ruth Wilson’s remarkable performance, which entirely convinces us of Kate’s attraction to him.
Director Harry Wootlif – who co-wrote the script with Molly Davies, based on the novel True Things About Me – walks an impossible line with a bold complexity: where some films would airbrush Kate’s character or attempt to explain or justify her existential malaise, True Things is a rare film that allows its leading woman to be messy and complicated and accepts her on her own terms. And so we’re able to see the frustration and dismay of Kate’s friends and parents as she makes terrible decisions but also sympathise with her.
From shallow focus close-ups and vivid dream sequences to a soundtrack that’s sparkling with fragile, fleeting drops of hope, it’s a beautifully subjective piece of cinematic storytelling, one that can have you laughing one minute and wincing the next. We share in the electric intoxication Kate experiences with Blond, and also in the structural collapse of her seemingly together adult life.
Holding it all together is Wilson’s Kate, whose gradual awakening to the toxic relationship she’s caught in is sincerely and subtly conveyed. Building on the nuanced observation of a tricky relationship in Wootliff’s moving debut, Only You, this is a darker, confident sophomore feature from a director with an impressive track record for avoiding simple resolutions and exploring the messiness of life in a way that’s unflinching yet poetic.
True Things is streaming on BFI Player from 7.30pm on 11th October until 7.3pm on 12th October 2021. Book a ticket here. You have 24 hours to start watching and 4 hours to complete the film once you’ve started.