WHO YOU THINK I AM (Celle que vous croyez)
Cohen Media Group
Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Safy Nebbou
Writer: Camille Laurens, Safy Nebbou, from the novel by Camille Laurens
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Nicole Garcia, François Civil, Marie-Ange Casta, Guillaume Gouix, Charles Berling, Jules Houplain
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 7/28/21
Opens: September 3, 2021
Some sixty years ago I was told that Europeans are more mature than Americans because they had suffered through two terrible wars. Ten years later, I was advised that European men, unlike Americans, did not care if the women to whom they were attracted were twenty years older than they were. I guess Americans are still babies when it comes to courtship.
If you think those epiphanies are too far out to believe, consider the case of Claire Millaud (Juliette Binoche), a fifty-something teacher of literature having a relationship with twenty-something Ludovic (Guillaume Gouix), a ruggedly handsome fellow in his twenties who may or not be that “mature European.” When he dumps Claire—just as Claire’s previous husband dumped her and left her to be a single mother—she is too caught up in the idea (or fantasy) that she can be satisfied only with a much younger man. Almost as revenge against her husband, she lectures her lit. students about Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” which features a woman who refuses to conform and she walks out on her husband.
“What You Think I Am,” bearing the French title “Celle que vous croyez” or, literally, “The One You Believe,” is an involving romantic tranche de vie with a few nice twists, delving into the mind of a woman whose psychiatrist, Dr. Catherine Bormans (Nicole Garcia), after a number of sessions with Claire, believes that her patient is masochistic; that she commits to actions that are self-defeating almost as if she wants her relationships to end badly.
How so? Shortly after Claire is dumped, she does what hip people do to find love. She goes online, but not to a site that caters to the middle aged such as Silver Singles (“there is no age limit for love”) or “Our Time,” but to one catering to youths such as eharmony. She finds someone even handsomer than her lost b.f., Alex Chelly (François Civil). who looks like a younger Ethan Hawke. Claire Millaud becomes Clara Antunés. She is now twenty-four, about the same age as Alex. Her avatar’s identity will be revealed near the concluding moments. Their online conversations become so passionate that it’s if two twenty-four-year-olds knew each other. While some stories feature male fantasies, this one involves a female delusion.
Safy Nebbou, whose 2004 movie “The Giraffe’s Neck” or “Le coup de la giraffe” displays the director’s imagination, given the off-beat plot about a ten-year-old determined to find her grandfather’s runaway ex-wife, now piles on the surprises, one of which is shattering to Claire. Claire pens a manuscript, a story within a story which her psychiatrist reads, which includes an ending that appears to confirm Dr. Garcia’s insights into her patient’s torment. Almost needless to say, Juliette Binoche, whose CV includes top roles in such wonderful pictures as “Let the Sunshine In” (“Un beau soleil intérieur” about a divorced mom looking for love) and “How to Be a Good Wife” (“La bonne épouse,” about a housekeeping school on the verge of bankrupty), is terrific. We learn that Europeans, specifically the French in this case, are just like us Americans. We all worship youth—which, of course, is wasted on the young.
Camille Laurens’ novel, “Who You Think I Am,” is available on Amazon. The film is in French with English subtitles.
101 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B+
Acting – A-
Technical – B+
Overall – B+