Who You Think I Am (Celle que vous croyez)
Many film narratives rely upon the suspension of disbelief in order to function. Luke Skywalker uses a combination of space mysticism and a laser sword to defeat an evil empire? Fair enough. Someone actually wanted to marry Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and the City movie? Sure. The story of Celle que vous croyez (Who You Think I Am) hinges on an event that requires a considerable suspension of disbelief, one that (almost) stretches plausibility to a point beyond salvation.
Berlinale 2019 jury president and Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche plays Claire, a 50-year-old in a state of repressed turmoil. Her husband left her, and her younger lover Ludo (Guillaume Gouix) treats her with polite disinterest. Much of the exposition in fact is courtesy of Claire’s conversations with her psychologist Catherine (Nicole Garcia). Claire is receiving treatment for an unspecified trauma, which appears to have flared up when she made the decision to create a fake online persona in order to interact with Ludo. Claire becomes the 24-year-old Clara and attracts the online attention of Ludo’s friend Alex (François Civil).
While two people can certainly meet online and form an emotional and intellectual connection, just how easily Alex believes “Clara” is problematic and not entirely credible. Has the young man never heard of catfishing? It might be as unambiguous as he believed simply because he wanted to, or needed to, but this element remains unexplored. This inconsistency needs to be swallowed for the subsequent plot machinations to be accepted, although it helps that Binoche is spectacular as the vulnerable, wounded Claire, giving a performance that goes a fair distance in distracting the audience from any narrative shortcomings. While Claire is positioned as an unreliable narrator, the manner in which the plot curves off in convoluted directions comes close to overkill as it seeks to rationalise certain events and mindsets. Director Safy Nebbou’s film might ask too much at times, but it’s still solid, if not hugely memorable entertainment.
Who You Think I Am (Celle que vous croyez) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.