Monday, 27 June 2022

True Things (2021)

This is a story about a woman who is pretty lost to herself, verges on living in a fantasy world half the time, doesn't really know what she wants from life (except for the love of a good man) and is stuck in a dreary existence which she appears to detest. What rescues it from being dull is Ruth Wilson.

She really is a terrific actor and makes the difference here by her great performance. We've seen her in all sorts of roles now and I can't readily think of a flunk. Luther, Locke, Jane Eyre - all outstanding. She plays Kate here, working in a Job Centre in England, looking for something to spark her life into action. She's bored, she's in trouble with her boss, at risk of being fired all the time for unreliability and going off sick, she's not responding socially to the only friend she seems to have, nor to her overpowering parents who, it seems to be suggested, have done nothing much to prevent her ending up as she is.

One of her claimants who's just got out of prison flirts with her. She doesn't need much of a reason to break the rules at work and rush headlong in with him. Known in the film as only 'Blond' he is played by Tom Burke (Mank, The Souvenir), leaping between caring, concerned and (almost) loving gent to battle-weary, hardened, independent bloke - the last thing that Kate needs. But she won't listen to those telling her that - rather just so pleased that she has the attention of a man.

He starts to abuse her devotion, lets her down, 'borrows' her car - after the sex has got boring for him, he's clearly not interested in her and only dips back in to her life when he wants something. Usually sex. She can't seem to see this though and for most of the film continues on the blind road, hoping, believing, fantasising about how it might be different soon - and when he gets a sniff of things going wrong and her being pushed too far, he teases her back into line. She drives herself down into a worse and worse spiral until eventually events lead her to a realisation of what's going on.

The viewer wants to shake her and tell her to get a grip, but it would do no good. The downward spiral is going to happen. She's got to go through this and make-or-break, come out the other side a harder-nosed, jaded person (like Blond) or to a realisation of what's going on once and for all and pull her life back together.

I guess it's basically a love story, but it's done so very well. It's harrowing at times, gritty, disturbing, depressing and nasty - tender and hopeful at others. It feels a bit like a Ken Loach film in many ways - real people facing the brutality of life, muddling through. Nicely shot and very engagingly pulled together by the relatively inexperienced director Harry Wootliff. It's based on the book True Things About Me by Deborah Kay Davies, which I must now grab and read. It's also produced by Wilson alongside Jude Law, who I think are a couple - or were. I don't follow celebrity gossip!

Anyway, great film. Loved it. Recommended for the central performance of Ruth Wilson. It's available on Mubi, but I'm sure other streaming services now or soon - or even the BBC as they seem to have played a part in production too.

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