Juliette Binoche gives another outstanding performance in this thrilling psychological drama courtesy of French writer/director Safy Nebbou. She plays a middle-aged mother of two who poses as a pretty 24 year old in order to seduce a younger man online. Adapted from Camille Laurens’s novel of the same name, Who You Think I Am presents an engaging character study on longing, desire and deceit and a clever twist on the “Catfish” idea told from the standpoint of the deceiver.
At 50, divorced university professor Claire (Binoche) feels that her life is teetering over the edge. After being rejected by her current much younger lover Ludo (Guillaume Gouix), Claire decides to make up a fake identity on Facebook to spy on him. Things take a turn for the unexpected when she strikes up a friendship with Ludo’s best friend and roommate Alex (François Civil) who believes her to be nearer to his own age.
Soon the two embark on a torrid affair online which gets even more complicated when Claire goes even further in her deceit by making up a whole new persona for the avatar she used to seduce the young man. Although refusing to meet her lover in real life for fear of rejection, Claire soon realises that they are both deeply in love with each other, but what kind of future could they possibly have?
With more twists and turns than a high octane police thriller, Who You Think I Am presents a hugely watchable story which is only just slightly let down by its rather preposterous denouement. With themes relating to female desire, truth and deception, the film does a great job in dissecting the psyche of a woman who feels she has just as much right to happiness than someone half her age.
Nebbou and co-writer Julie Peyr have given us a remarkable adaptation which is never diminished by its sometimes contrived storytelling techniques. A device which uses regular sessions between Claire and her therapist (Nicole Garcia) to advance the story can feels a little misplaced, but on the whole the film does a great job in laying out all its elements with impressive ease.
Far from reinventing the psychological thriller, Who You think I Am knowingly pays homage to the genre with added Gallic charm and clever dialogue. Safy Nebbou has given us a robustly acted and expertly executed production which delivers on all its promises and then some.
Who You Think I Am is available to stream online from Curzon Home Cinema