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maryann johanson | #BlackLivesMatter

Who You Think I Am movie review: on the Internet, no one knows you’re a sexy French lady

Who You Think I Am red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Not even the treasure that is Juliette Binoche can make this cynical romantic thriller palatable. Does not say the things about social media and the lives of older women that it thinks it does.
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for movies about women; love Juliette Binoche
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, female coscreenwriter, female protagonist
(learn more about this)

Juliette Binoche is a treasure, and always a pleasure to watch, but this strained, off-putting suspense drama is a trial even with her presence. Ostensibly a gloss on the thrills and dangers of social-media romances and on how unfair the world is to older women, Who You Think I Am undercuts itself by being actually cynical and sexist all on its own, unironically and in a way that undermines everything it thinks it’s saying.

Binoche’s (Let the Sunshine In) Claire — a sexy, vital, 50something academic — has absolutely no trouble snagging boyfriends half her age. Like Ludo (Guillaume Gouix), who is a jerk and ghosts her, and Ludo’s pal Alex (François Civil), whom Claire ensnares via a fake Facebook profile in order to get back at Ludo, or something. It all unfurls in retrospect, as Claire relates her tale to her therapist (Nicole Garcia), but what are meant to be the woes of life as a woman of a certain age who is treated poorly by men come across as nought but misadventures in cruel, calculated virtual manipulation.

Who You Think I Am Juliette Binoche

“Oh, oui, oui, mon cher! I assure you, I am an innocent young naif who knows nothing of the world, not a confident adult woman who knows what she wants in a man.”

It’s all pointlessly complicated, you see, by Claire’s digital deception that she is, in fact, a naive 20something blonde, the social-media delusion Alex falls for. Or does he? Is any of this anything more than the personal fan fiction of a woman consumed by jealousy and loneliness? Claire literally writes a manuscript for her therapist that is allegedly a cathartic analysis of her psychoses via an imaginary resolution of her relationship with Alex… at which point we realize we have little reason to take at face value anything that she had said prior to this, either.

Not only is Claire an unreliable narrator, she’s a thoroughly unengaging one whose problems do zilch to illuminate any of the cultural issues the movie glances at. Director Safy Nebbou — who cowrote the script with Julie Peyr, from Camille Laurens’s novel — has no sympathy for Claire, nor even any animosity. This bland, antiseptic view of a potentially fascinating character renders Who You Think I Am as sadsack as its protagonist.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2020’s other new films.

red light 2 stars

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watch at home

Who You Think I Am (Celle que vous croyez) (2020) | directed by Safy Nebbou
UK/Ire release: Apr 10 2020 (direct to streaming)

BBFC: rated 15 (strong sex, sex references)

viewed at home on PR-supplied physical media or screening link

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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