True Things  (15) Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Harry Wootliff, UK, 2021, 102 mins

Cast:   Ruth Wilson, Tom Burke, Hayley Squires

Review by Carol Allen

Writer/director Harry Wootliff’s first feature film Only You was an intimate and sensitively handled relationship drama about a couple whose love affair founders when they try and fail to have a baby.   

The two main characters, played by Laia Costa and Josh O’Connor are totally sympathetic to us in their joy and then their tragedy.  Wootliff’s second film True Things is rather different.  Although once more dealing with an intimate relationship, its protagonist Kate (Ruth Wilson) is a rather miserable and unlikeable character.

She has a dead end job in the benefits office of a seaside town and resists the efforts of her best friend Alison (Hayley Squires) to fix her up with a nice respectable boyfriend.  Then she meets a charismatic and dominating man (Tom Burke) with whom she embarks on a sexually charged and potentially destructive affair.   She doesn’t even know his name – just has him listed in her phone as Blond – the colour of his hair. 

The affair is fuelled with drink, drugs and unreliability.  One minute Blond declares they are soulmates and invites her to accompany him to his sister’s wedding in Spain, the next he borrows her car and disappears with it for days.   The film is inevitably sexually explicit but like Only You, the sex scenes are staged to show us feelings, not body parts.   The most nakedness we see is of Tom Burke’s bottom – and a very nice bottom it is too.

Burke gets to make more of an impression here as the bad egg lover than he did in a not dissimilar role in Joanna Hogg’s dreary Souvenir, though the character remains something of an enigma, dominated by his sexuality.   Ruth Wilson is a very good actress but she does tend to get cast as characters who are a bit on the gloomy side.  Her spooky Alice Morgan in Luther for example;  the wicked Mrs Coulter in His Dark Materials and her role in the rather miserabilist Dark River.    In this one she is dead glum again for most of the time, good sex or not.

This is a brave and uncomfortable film, which seems to be attempting to show us that it is through the destructive and dangerous experiences that we grow, particularly women.   It is though ultimately just rather depressing.