In the current reality where we are all communicating online and unable to satisfy our need for touch and physical intimacy what better time for Safy Nebbou’s virtual thriller to grace us with its presence, a film in which the protagonist is experiencing a similar form – albeit on a smaller scale – of self-isolation. Who You Think I Am is a catfish story on the surface but wields a much more substantial message once under Nebbou’s microscope.
Claire, played by the ever-enigmatic Juliet Binoche is ghosted by her young lover. A fifty-something literature professor, Claire does something we’re all guilty of (come on), and checks out her ex on Facebook, she takes her obsession further by setting up a fake profile and reaching out to his friend Alex (François Civil) in the hope to get closer to photographer and A+ ghoster, Ludo (Guillaume Gouix) as she recalls the past events to her psychotherapist in a series of flashbacks.
What unfolds although seemingly a little predictable at first, is none the less engaging as Claire and her avatar, 24-year-old Clara become closer to Alex. Every call, every video and picture become a chance for her to get caught out in her fabrication. Ibrahim Maalouf’s soundtrack brilliantly picks up the dings of online notifications we’re so familiar with, incorporating them into its score that builds throughout the film. Perfectly capturing the rush Claire describes as “feeling alive” during her communications with Alex. With their passion and desires becoming impossible to resist, we’re tricked into thinking this can only end one way but Nebbou has created a web of storytelling that becomes clearer throughout the second half of the film with some delightfully unexpected turns that only pull us in further.
Binoche’s performance is incredibly engaging. You feel as if you’re sat with her, expectant and curious as she communicates with Alex, heart in your mouth as at any moment she could say or do something that would reveal the truth.
What is at the heart of Nebbou’s thriller is not only the reality of ageing in a world where youth is seen as a desirable commodity that is impossible to truly re-capture on the outside, but how we’re able to easily write our own stories and characters with them often becoming, or already being, part of us in some way. Claire is Clara, perhaps not in the image she imagined, her virtual creation brings to the surface another side of her that she thought she had lost.
Who You Think I Am will lead you one way before taking a sharp turn into something totally unexpected, to describe this as a classic catfish thriller really doesn’t do it justice, it’s so much more and delves far deeper that we’d ever anticipate. Expect this one to stay with you for a while.