D’Après une Histoire Vraie (Based on a True Story)Cannes Film Festival 2017
This is a supremely silly potboiler from Roman Polanski, partly saved by an entertainingly hammy performance from Eva Green as an obsessive, sociopathic fan who comes to dominate the life of her idolised author, Delphine (Emmanuelle Seigner). Co-written by Olivier Assayas, the film revels in trying to subvert the tropes of thriller fiction, but in doing so manufactures a general mess with plot holes deeper than the Seine.
Seigner plays the successful writer whose life is consumed by Green’s enigmatic, blunt admirer. The pair meet at a book signing where Delphine is promoting a naked, affecting memoir about her mother’s painful history. The novelist is jaded from the public attention but is immediately beguiled by this stranger’s presence who refers to herself simply as Her. As Delphine notes of her new companion, “she is so categorical”, but her suggestions and manner produce “clarity”. When her considerate, level-headed partner François (Vincent Perez) leaves for America to conduct a series of interviews – McCarthy, DeLillo and Didion are all amusingly namechecked – Delphine finds herself relying more heavily on the support of Her’s manic desire for control.
Propelled by Alexandre Desplat’s tense score, a strange game of mirorring and impersonation begins with moments reminiscent of Stephen King’s Misery. Even Delphine’s dreams provide no haven, as one shocking scene has Her suddenly jump out of a Mac word document. Reality is blurred, and we’re left to wonder if certain things exist only in the mind. The set-up promises a rollicking, increasingly demented farce, but the film gets lost in its own contrivances from the middle act onwards. It’s hard to see whether in trying to be clever Polanski has rather tied himself in knots, producing an unsatisfactory and abrupt close. Green’s Her doesn’t descend into greater delusion; she rather maintains a simmering psychosis. It would have been a more purely enjoyable experience if the shackles came off and the madness was left to roam.
D’Après une Histoire Vraie (Based on a True Story) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read our interview with director Roman Polanski here.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Cannes Film Festival 2017 visit here.