WHO YOU THINK I AM/ CELLE QUE VOUS CROYEZ , France, 2019. Starring Juliette Binoche, Nicole Garcia, François Civil, Guillaume Gouix. Directed by Safy Nebbou. 101 minutes. Rated MA (Strong sex scenes).
Juliette Binoche has made a number of films about women in midlife crisis. This was true of Claire Denis’s Let the Sunshine In where the central character drifts from one relationship to another – and, finally, consults a clairvoyant played by Gerard Depardieu, a strange 15 minutes conclusion to the film as she listens patiently, absorbing his advice which does not sound particularly insightful or helpful.
In fact, it is a pity that she did not consult the psychologist in this film, a sensible woman played by Nicole Garcia, seen attentively listening and not trying to influence her client with ideas or modes of behaviour.
This time Juliette Binoche is an academic, separated from her husband, in a relationship with a younger man who is rather casual while she is much smitten with him. When she tries to contact him by phone, she encounters his associate who behaves in a dismissive manner. She is upset, does some research on him, that he is a photographer and that he is travelling with her lover.
The gist of the film is that she sets up a character online and communicates with the photographer, sending photos of her niece, creating a young character, a model. He falls for the attractive character online and they began a correspondence. Both of them become rather obsessed. (There is a surprising twist about the niece at the end.)
The question is will she tell him the truth, what will be his response?
The woman is actually recounting her story to the psychologist, building up through flashbacks – and, eventually, with several possible solutions which are also dramatised, including the young man’s disillusionment and suicide, including the woman’s becoming more infatuated and beginning a new and direct relationship with the young man without revealing who she is, or the young man not dying, the former lover having lied about this, and his marrying and having a family.
So, the question is not just to the woman who she thinks she is but who other people think she is.
Released August 1st
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.