By Adam Ray Palmer
Kicking off our Glasgow Film Festival journey in 2022 is the sophomore movie from writer-director Harry Wootliff starring Ruth Wilson, Tom Burke and Hayley Squires.
Following up Harry’s 2019 award-winning title Only You, Wootliff continues down the intimate drama route with True Things, a character-driven portrait based on the Kay Davies novel.
True Things follows Kate (Ruth Wilson) who is drifting through life in a dead-end job, living in a seaside town that’s seen better days. With the much-needed injection of fun into her life, she meets ex-con bad boy Blond (Tom Burke) and her world is knocked for six. There’s an instant connection, an attraction – but the overpowering lust becomes an all-consuming obsession for Kate.
True Things is an interesting one. Whilst the narrative is nothing original, and the themes throughout of self-discovery, an abusive relationship and the wanting of love is familiar; the performances of Wilson and Burke as the star-crossed lovers just about makes this movie tick.
The intimacy of the complex leads, and lingering camerawork is where the drama has some success. At times, the cinematography is intoxicating and borders on feeling like we shouldn’t be there to witness the seductive affection between the two. These are the type of scenes you watch through your fingers – you know you’re like a “peeping Tom”, but you can’t help but be allured by their chemistry. Whilst the film wants to have more of a focus on the self-searching and reflection narrative, and the highly sexual scenes kick the movie into gear, it leans a tad too much into the physicalised love in my opinion.
As the film plays out, it becomes evidently clear that one person wants more from the love affair, but Harry (director) never really delves deep enough to explore these intricate details, which would make this film have an even stronger connection to the audience. We see the lust on a surface level, but it’s the underbelly of the film that deserves investigating.
In the end, True Things is a powerful character study around the themes of lust and identity, but it never really leaves the ground from there. A twisted, sexy psychological thriller that lets us only briefly enter the crazy world of Kate’s rollercoaster life. With the intense harmony between the excellent leads, this film was never going to be a dud; but if it explored a little deeper, it could have been a stud.
Cineroom’s rating: 3.5 stars
True Things premieres at the 2022 Glasgow Film Festival on 5th March – certificate 15