TRUE THINGS is a viscerally uncomfortable film to watch.
This isn’t me denigrating the film. TRUE THINGS is very good.
My deep, skin-crawling discomfort whilst watching it is testament to the skill of the lead actors. Ruth Wilson is distressingly earnest as the love hungry Kate. And Tom Burke as Blond is a fascinating character study on the quintessential… Well, it rhymes with ‘tuckboy’.
Kate works a soul destroying job at the welfare office. Irritatingly, it doesn’t have to be so unfulfilling: she could be helping people. But there’s so many hoops for recipients to jump through that she’s not really able to. And then they yell at her. And then her boss yells at her. And then her friend tries to set her up on dates so she can settle down with a nice man, and then have children, and then do something meaningful with her life.
No one really has Kate’s back, in any part of her life.
Kate’s just sort of sleepwalking. She’s sad and bored, but she doesn’t really know why. But then one day Tom Burke walks into her welfare office. He’s called Blond, because he is blonde. And wow, he is just awful. Fantastically performed by Burke. I can practically taste the stale cigarettes in Blond’s mouth each time he and Kate kiss.
He’s just out of prison, unemployed, manipulative.
But he’s nice to her. And so she decides to blow up her life for him.
The film itself is pretty slow moving. We’re sort of thrown into Kate’s life without too much preamble. But Kate doesn’t do much – at least at the beginning – so the world feels static and suffocating. Which, yeah: that’s pretty much how Kate feels.
Then Blond shows up, and things get more exciting. And depressing. And almost icky. Because Blond is pretty rubbish, and it’s uncomfortable to see his influence on Kate.
As I said, this film is brought to life by Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke, and all the supporting characters that make up TRUE THINGS. The setting, even the plot, isn’t as memorable as the people in them. Director Harry Wootliff does make some beautiful shot choices, including some disturbing fantasies Kate experiences. These fantasies are blended in with Kate’s real life, and show how strongly she feels something, rather than what is actually happening.
TRUE THINGS is a great film for someone who enjoys a slow burn. Someone who likes flawed characters, and is keen to explore ways a poor romance can lead you to do some messed-up things. Someone wanting to watch a film about mental health. Perhaps someone looking for validation about depressing corporate work, and how it sucks the joy out of people. Perhaps someone who, like Kate, wants something better.
Although it’ll be deeply uncomfortable for anyone who, like me, has made questionable romantic choices.
I really enjoyed TRUE THINGS. The acting was brilliant, the script was surprising, and really took me along for the ride. The film was deeply interested in showing all the little moments in its characters’ lives. It’s not the most exciting film, and it’s far from fast paced, but there’s a lot to love.