LFF 2021: True Things

Harry Wootliff's drama True Things follows the relationship that forms between a young woman who dreams of excitement and an ex-con who seduces her, but unfortunately only one of these characters is fully sketched out

Film Review by Rory Doherty | 14 Oct 2021
  • True Things
Film title: True Things
Director: Harry Wootliff
Starring: Ruth Wilson, Tom Burke, Hayley Squires, Elizabeth Rider, Frank McCusker, Ann Firbank, Tom Weston Jones, Nathan Ampofo, Michael Moreland
Release date: 11 Mar

With True Things, Harry Wootliff tries to repeat the low-key, introspective nature of her previous film – the Glasgow-set relationship drama Only You – but mismatched performances and a painfully simple emotional arc deaden the intended quiet impact. Kate (Ruth Wilson) lives a mundane life, dreaming of excitement and attention. All her prayers are seemingly answered by the arrival of a nameless ex-con (Tom Burke), who Kate dubs "Blond". His manipulative nature soon becomes apparent, and as Kate struggles with her priorities, her life starts to destabilise, but Wootliff and co-writer Molly Davies can’t seem to dramatise their relationship in an engaging way.

Wootliff is skilled at giving us snapshot glances into people’s psychology, and mines a lot out of extreme close-ups of Kate’s terrible texting or the tiny lies she reels off to others. We’re offered substantially less of a view into Blond, however, who’s sketched with such a vagueness that he skips being intriguing or mysterious and ends up feeling completely flat. While Wilson proves again she’s a capable emotional performer, Burke comes up short, seeming distinctly miscast in the role.

Genuinely engaging ideas float through True Things. Abusive men exploit the fact that they can make insecure women feel more attractive and interesting than they think they are, and we can often think of loneliness as a fault with ourselves. But all the nuance and prickling nervousness of Only You has been lost, with characters that never feel worth getting invested in beyond the inherent sympathy for Kate’s crisis.

True Things had its UK premiere at London Film Festival and is released in the UK on 11 Mar 2021 by Picturehouse Entertainment