Safy Nebbou’s exploration of identity in his latest film Who You Think I Am beautifully moves in the spaces between illusion and truth as questions about how we connect with each other in our modern society are raised.
An adaptation of a novel by Camille Laurens by the same name it stars Juliette Binoche as Claire Millaud, a seemingly self-assured mother of two with an absent husband. The film centres on Claire and weaves in and out of the lives of those connected to her as she searches to find fulfilment. A wonderful performance by Binoche solidifies her stature as a great actress and she is a pleasure to watch throughout the entire film.
An affair with photographer Ludo sets the scene in which Claire is clearly the more invested participant and is quickly dismissed by her younger lover. Sparked by hurt and curiosity, she begins to stalk Ludo on social media and this leads her to make contact with his friend Alex.
Beginning as an innocent, almost playful, attempt to obtain information Claire creates a profile under the name ‘Clara’. Using the photograph of a much younger woman and seemingly casual exchanges a connection is established with Alex. The dialogue intensifies and a genuine love grows between the two, albeit on false pretences.
While Claire comfortably slips into her new online persona and finds pleasure in her relationship with Alex, inevitable questions begin to loom. How far will she take this relationship? Will she tell him the truth and hope that their love will prevail? The notion of simulacra and when does the copy of a life stop becoming a copy and exist on its own comes to the fore as Claire’s life is increasingly played out on social media and she continues to weave her web.
Binoche slowly exposes Claire’s motivations and desires throughout the film which increasingly hint at something darker. With each decision that Claire makes, it leads her down a path of no return but Binoche is able to maintain our sympathy for her character by displaying her vulnerability and the fallibility which is within us all. With beautiful cinematography, Nebbou’s direction is measured and subtle, giving the viewer space in each scene to formulate their own view of the unfolding tragedy.
The film explores multiple modern themes without ever becoming overbearing or hectoring the viewer but instead poses compelling questions for consideration. A wonderful story that is brought to life by Binoche’s superb acting.
Showing now at Palace Cinemas.