Drama films

True Things review – seductive and dangerous liaisons in Ramsgate | Drama movies

After his wonderfully gripping debut feature film, Only you, writer-director Harry Wootliff turns to a rather toxic relationship, balancing elements of romantic melodrama and psychological thriller in a film fueled by modern gothic passions. Loosely adapted from the book by Deborah Kay Davies The real things about me, it’s a disturbing and seductive (and often unexpectedly funny) portrayal of manipulation and deception that gets right under the skin of its protagonist, brilliantly played by Ruth Wilson, who walks a tightrope between enchantment and misery. in danger. With great physical poise and precision, Wilson (who cast and developed the sourcebook) engages audiences on a visceral level, his deceptively understated performance taking us deep into his character’s dreams, desires and insecurities.

Wilson plays Kate, a dreamy, somewhat shaky thirtysomething whose personal life has come to a standstill and is about to take on a mundane job in a benefits office in Ramsgate. When a charismatic seeker (Tom Burke) arrogantly asks what she’s making for lunch, Kate throws caution to the wind and soon finds herself in a surprisingly erotic encounter in a parking lot that’s as exciting as it is risky. Like Kate, we know little or nothing about her bewitching new lover, whom she names Blond, but whose details (her history, status, even whereabouts) remain enigmatically vague. What we do know is that Kate becomes instantly addicted to his unpredictable attentions, eager for his calls and company, infatuated with his presence – all the more so in his frequent and frustrating absence.

Kate’s friends and family are understandably suspicious, and neither is Alison (Hayley Squires), who has been trying to find a suitable partner to settle down with. For Alison, this intruder is just another bad decision – a chaotic presence that has overtaken Kate’s life in need, clouding her senses and judgment. “So you’re going to save him, aren’t you?” Alison asks when Kate insists their dependence is mutual, even when Blond drives off with her car. Yet each time he reappears, the spark is rekindled, keeping alive the possibility that a better, more exciting life awaits Kate, just beyond his reach.

Wootliff described the real things as “a cautionary tale of a complex yet ordinary destructive sexual relationship”, adding that the relationship feels “so familiar” it’s “almost a rite of passage”. While Wootliff may be referring specifically to “a woman’s sense of self” as explored or defined through relationships, the film’s appeal transcends gender boundaries. Anyone who has ever defined themselves through the eyes of others, or sought self-esteem in an unworthy romance, will recognize both the agony and the ecstasy of Kate’s predicament. This tension burns in the heart of the real things, making Kate both a passive observer and an active agent in circumstances beyond her control. Basically, no matter how much her passion consumes her, it also motivates her – albeit to the distraction.

After brilliantly embodying Anthony’s sweet duplicity in Joanna Hogg’s Memory, Burke here seems to be channeling the spirit of Oliver Reed, investing his character with a mixture of animal magnetism and fear of intimacy that feeds greedily on Kate’s own conflicted responses. When he tells her she’s “beautiful,” there’s something of a fairy tale wolf in his words, as if he’s about to eat her. Yet, like Red Riding Hood, Kate is more resourceful than she looks.

In Only you, Josh O’Connor and Laia Costa danced to the angsty strains of Elvis Costello’s I Want You in a scene that showcased Wootliff’s ability to tell a story through movement and music. Dance plays a crucial role in the real things also, as PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me stages a defining scene of character-driven choreography in which Wootliff and Wilson work in perfect harmony with cinematographer Ashley Connor, whose close-up expressionist images have a quality tactile and sensual. Kudos also to composer Alex Baranowski, whose plucked and processed sounds create a sonic backdrop that perfectly captures Kate’s anxiously evolving mind, simultaneously evoking impending doom and ecstatic escape.