In True Things, we see a semblance of someone we have known once in our lives. Someone swept away in a romance they should be more careful about. With Harry Wootlif’s intoxicating film, we feel and understand without having to delve too deeply into her characters. A wonderfully nuanced film.
Kate (Ruth Wilson) is drifting through life in a dead-end job in a rundown seaside town. Then she meets ex-con bad boy Blonde (Tom Burke), and her world is knocked sideways. Instant attraction leads to an all-consuming obsession.
We all probably know a Kate, someone who has led a comfortable and easy life for far too long (in their eyes), and suddenly after meeting someone new, their entire demeanour has done a 180. Consumed with the intoxication of what this new person brings to them, they get swept up and taken away. Good, exciting sex and the excitement of being wanted and wanting to chase creates a whirlwind of trouble for Kate.
Wilson excels as usual in her role, a character who has seemingly accepted every negative thing said about her to the point that her confidence is rock bottom. However, underneath that low self-esteem claim office worker is a woman full of fire and ready and willing for excitement. She just needs that spark to start her off, and she certainly gets that with Blonde. Sadly, she just mistakes that spark for long term thinking, so as she battles her inner thoughts about what this all means for her, we see a new Kate come forth, and with that final dance scene, she may have finally understood who she is.
Burke excites as Blonde, a man who only sees the future and is not willing to waste the rest of his life after a short stint in prison. He is a man who takes what he wants, when he wants, all under a commanding and charming guise. His switch from sensual to stone cold in the blink of an eye causes shudders due to the memory of something remarkably similar happening to you.
The strength in Wootlif’s direction and Ashley Connors camera are what you gravitate towards here. As Kate falls further for Blonde, we get more inside her head. With constant extreme close-ups at times, you feel present in the room, car park or lake in which these characters reside. There are moments of tenderness sprinkled throughout True Things, and there needs to be as when Kate steps away from what she knows the handheld camera watches on as if in a documentary. Roaming around in an intimate fashion but entirely focused on its subjects, we get and feel far more than you would expect from a film that’s story is relatively simple in structure.
What hits home as you watch True Things is how utterly ordinary it all is; as said, we all know a Kate. We may even know a blonde. There are moments that feel unrealistic in the entire film. You could imagine this story happening at any moment and really in at any time in the last century. This is where there are the slightest struggles with the film because it never stretches itself with its normalcy that you are almost waiting for something more dramatic to happen. Which, of course, is perfectly fine, and when you come to realise that this is all we are getting from Harry Wootliff and her erotic drama, then you can be content enough.
We also know very little about our characters; of course, this has to be the case with Blonde. He is the mystery that refuses to be solved. With Kate, though, we see glimpses of what people think of her and how she reacts to that, but until that last scene, we never really see the true Kate. By keeping us at just about arm’s length, we can project ourselves or someone we know into Wilson’s character, opening the film up to be irresistible to the audience.
Yet we never feel as connected as we should to the story, as if we are the silent friend witnessing this poor spiral, unable to warn Kate, to let her know to let it go. Instead, we watch a rinse and repeat of Blonde wanting her attention, and when he has had his fill, we toss her to the side with barely a care. This is where True Things fails to grip as entice you as it needs to, never digging in that touch more to her story doesn’t hurt the overall end product with it being a word of warning to those thinking of speeding down the dark country lane, it could all well end in disaster.
True Things is laser-focused on its characters and little else as we witness the whirlwind romance unfurl before us. Intimate and revealing, it sometimes feels as if Harry Wootlif’s film holds itself back once we reach the finale.
True Things will be shown during the Glasgow Film Festival in person on Saturday 5th March and Sunday 6th, before being available digitally from Monday 7th – Thursday 10th March. For more information click here.
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