Harry Wootliff’s True Things was pitched as a relatable film about toxic relationships, but it wound up being an extremely impersonal, banal depiction of a relationship that is more impulsive than toxic. Whatever commentary it sought to make about this particular brand of relationship was wasted on a weak script that even Ruth Wilson couldn’t make work for her.
True Things is a Bad Film about Bad Relationships
Wootliff and Molly Davies' adaptation of Deborah Kay Davies' True Things About Me never quite lives up to the hype. Kate (Ruth Wilson) lives a pretty unremarkable humdrum life in Ramsgate until she meets Blond (Tom Burke) who is fresh out of prison, impulsive, and ready to seduce her in a carpark hours after they meet at her place of work.
True Things certainly wants audiences to believe that this chance encounter is the gateway to Kate’s sexual freedom, allowing her to explore desire, need, and a series of really foolish decisions hinged on her attraction to Blond. Wilson and Burke lack the kind of chemistry required to sell this tumble down the rabbit hole and it’s far from their fault. The script lacks anything for them to really work with.
The film plays into the rather misogynistic trope that meek, sexually unsatisfied, women like the “bad boys” who ghost them, reject them, and reel them back in when they start to move on. Sure, this happens, but the movie has no real substance outside of the very generalized and insipid attempts at exploring this theme.
While Wootliff is depicting the story through the lens of a woman, it lacks the female gaze that one might expect from a film written and directed by women. The exploration of sexuality feels hinged entirely on male perception and the moments of intimacy that Kate experiences are tainted by masculinity that ultimately feels selfish.
The intent of True Things is plain enough to see, but it fails entirely at sticking the landing. The claustrophobic cinematography narrows the field of sight, but it also stifles the potential of finding freedom and something monumental in the subject matter.
Blond might try to gaslight Kate throughout the film, but it felt like True Things tried to gaslight me into believing it was a good film.
True Things screened this week at the Toronto International Film Festival. A release date has not yet been set.
Check out our full coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival.