Netflix UK film review: Who You Think I Am
Online dating awkwardness8
Ivan Radford | On 12, Apr 2020
Director: Safy Nebbou
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Nicole Garcia
Watch Who You Think I Am online in the UK: Netflix UK / Curzon Home Cinema / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
“Do you use social media? It’s both the shipwreck and the lifeboat.” That’s Claire (Juliette Binoche) in Who You Think I Am, a thriller that follows a middle-aged woman who tricks a young man into thinking that she’s a 24-year-old woman. Catfish but from the perspective of the catfisher? it’s an intriguing premise for a story, not least because the story is rooted in the experience of the kind of person who is routinely overlooked and removed from mainstream stories.
That’s where Who You Think I Am is at its best: in its understanding of the way that women, once they’re over a certain age, become invisible to society. And so Claire finds herself jilted by her ex-husband, who leaves her for a younger woman – prompting her to enter into a relationship online with the younger Ludo. But when that fades into ghosting territory, she goes one drastic step further and hooks up with Ludo’s contemporary, Alex (François Civil), with the aim of spying on her former beau.
Their interactions are intense and immediately intimate, with Claire hiding behind the photo of a younger woman to entice this new lover. He, in return, is swiftly smitten by this apparently independent, mature and wise young lady. It could easily be a cute, happy romantic comedy about love that trumps expectations and appearances – Love is Blind: The Movie, if you will – but the script, based on Camille Laurens’ novel, also lingers on the verge of a psycho-thriller (in all sense of the word), with the tone as dark and disturbing as it is swooning and sincere.
As well as diving into Claire’s enamoured feelings and longing to be noticed, we also see he ignore her own kids in favour of this online stranger, a balance that makes sure we’re never entirely buying into what we’re seeing. It’s a nice balancing act, even if, as the second half unspools, the balancing act loses some of its elegance. But what’s tangibly real throughout is Juliette Binoche’s magnetic performance, especially as she goes head to head with Nicole Garcia as her doctor, who talks through her timely feelings of isolation in between each new chapter.
For every mildly absurd turn the narrative takes, there’s a spot-on observation (Claire Googling the word “Insta” mid-chat is a delight); if the story becomes less credible the longer it goes on, the fact that it’s her story makes it a seductive watch. How many other actors could make typing on a computer or phone so compelling?
Who You Think I Am is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.