The Affair’s Ruth Wilson has another affair in True Things, a British relationship drama based on the novel True Things About Me by Deborah Kay Davies. It follows Kate (Wilson), a benefits officer in Ramsgate, on her last warning at work and her last good years according to her parents (Elizabeth Rider and Frank McCusker) and only friend (Hayley Squires). She trawls dating apps and holiday sites for a chance to escape, which appears to arrive in the form of a claimant (Tom Burke) fresh from a stint in prison. After a few nights of passion, moonlighting turns into gaslighting as the sexy ex-con starts to take advantage of Kate’s good nature.
The emphasis on psychological abuse over physical violence is a powerful choice. All it takes is a few barbed comments (and one act of theft) to make viewers want to shake Kate and tell her she deserves better than this bleach-blond bad boy. He is something of a stereotype (though there are definitely plenty of men like this) but the fact he is known only as Blond suggests his character is almost meant figuratively – there to show Kate that it was never the man she loved but the freedom he represents. As a result, scenes that seem clichéd on the surface (she wants to define the relationship, he accuses her of cornering him) all work because the audience understands her feelings and motives.
This is down to Wilson’s raw performance and Harry Wootliff’s direction that locks into the young woman’s state of mind, shooting from her point of view even if it means the picture is upside down. Wootliff brings a heady female perspective to Kate’s dreams and reality, filming in the tight academy ratio to provide a feeling of both intimacy and oppression. The viewpoint is always inside her head, often appearing giddy and out of focus. It is essentially a film about addiction, with Kate automatically grasping at her phone to call Blond (himself a user) like an alcoholic reaching for a bottle. The polite protagonists’s obsession makes her dark and irritable, as she loses her mind over a man and slowly comes to her senses in a dizzy, dancing climax. The outcome is an impressively intoxicating and ultimately empowering story of sense and sensuality.
True Things is released in select cinemas on 1st April 2022.
Watch a clip from True Things here: