Review by Camden Ferrell
Who You Think I Am premiered at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival. It is the newest movie from French director Safy Nebbou. It is based on the novel of the same name by Camille Laurens. While the movie loses some of its steam later on, the overall experience is elevated by a dynamic first half and an impressive leading performance from Juliette Binoche.
Claire is a middle-aged woman with two kids and an ex-husband. Becoming interested in Alex, a friend of her fling, she decides to create an online persona on Facebook. Posing as a woman in her twenties, she develops an emotional affair with Alex. This is a really interesting premise that has a lot to say about middle-age, love, and the digital age.
Nebbou penned the script with Julie Peyr, and it’s quite impressive especially in the first half. They’re able to truly capture the emotions and insecurities Claire faces without losing much of its subtlety. The dialogue is natural, and there are a few twists dispersed throughout. Unfortunately, the narrative becomes a little less compelling in the final half of the film, but it still remains thematically strong until the end.
The standout of this film is the fantastic leading performance by Juliette Binoche. She plays the role so tenderly and profoundly in ways that surprised me. She transcends beyond the trope of mid-life crisis mother, and she transforms it into something that is equal parts sensual and heartbreaking. Her supporting cast is decent but forgettable, and this movie is truly a showcase for her talents as a performer.
While the movie has a tightly paced and endearing opening half, it slowly loses its momentum. It lacks the same energy afforded to it in the earlier half and isn’t quite as engaging. However, Binoche as well as a combination of narrative twists, will keep audiences interested and engaged from start to finish. It also succeeds in tenderly exploring this woman’s mid-life crisis and the longing she has for a relative stranger. I was impressed by how maturely and non-exploitative its execution of its central premise is.
Who You Think I Am is a fresh new take on the mid-life crisis, and it’s anchored by a dedicated and solemn performance from Binoche. It has a strong script, and a delicate execution that makes this an enjoyable film from the French director.
Who You Think I Am is playing in New York and LA September 3, followed by a national rollout.