Director: Safy Nebbou

Cast: Juliette Binoche, Nicole Garcia, François Civil, Charles Berling, Guillaume Gouix, Marie-Ange Casta, Claude Perron, Jules Houplain

Run time: 102 minutes

Synopsis: To spy on her lover Ludo, 50 year-old Claire Millaud creates a fake profile on social media and becomes Clara, a beautiful 24 year-old. Alex, Ludo’s friend is instantly enamoured. Claire, trapped by her avatar, falls madly in love with him. Although everything is played out in the virtual world, the feelings that blossom are quite real. We are left with a misleading story where lies are entangled with reality.

URL: https://youtu.be/ShwXIOszzIM

Director Safy Nebbou [Bad Seeds (2012), The Giraffe’s Neck (2004)] has adapted Camille Laurens’s prestigious 2017 novel of the same name.  Claire (the luminous Juliette Binoche), a divorced professor of literature, is cruelly ghosted by her callous, commitment-phobe, young lover Ludo. She decides to ‘catfish’ him by setting up a fake social media profile using a fake picture of a pretty, young woman as an avatar, in this Hitchcockian thriller for the modern age. Due to Ludo (Guillaume Gouix) only accepting ‘friend’ requests from people he knows in real life, Claire connects with his young assistant and best friend Chris (François Civil). 

Soon – and within a narrative arc that echoes aspects of Les Liaisons Dangereuses – Claire and Chris are fervently texting each other, and even having phone sex. A fake online friendship has turned into a fake love affair. Whether it is love or an obsessive limerence, Chris wants to meet, and although Claire thinks she loves him too, she is soon inventing a busy job, trips away and even a jealous ex. For both of them, the situation has become unbearable.

Claire is sharing many of her dilemmas with her psychiatrist, Dr Catherine Bormans (Nicole Garcia) and this intellectual, analytical, defiant and deeply insecure woman is also developing an inauthentic, obsessive relationship with her therapist.

Obsessed about her looks being negatively compared with the young, and hiding behind the curtain of a fake social media profile, Claire’s experience makes her more adept at manipulation and digital flirting, as she comes to realise that the brain is the main sexual organ, in this twist and turn erotic thriller.

At one point Claire asks a group of contemporaneous women what the male word for a ‘cougar’ is – ‘man’ is the reply, and among the many ethical issues posed by Who You Think I Am is age inequality in gender relationships.

Also highlighted is Claire’s neglect of her two sons because of her internet midlife crisis, prompting them to ask at one point :‘Do you think she remembers she has children?’

Despite an atmospheric score by Ibrahim Maalouf and dream like images from the cinematography of Gilles Porte, this film belongs to the mesmerising Binoche, whose convincing, multi-layered performance is the main triumph in this masterly thriller.

Streaming on Curzon Home Video

Images courtesy of Curzon Artificial Eye