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.
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.