Who You Think I Am has a plot we have all seen or heard before: Claire (Juliette Binoche) is a woman in her fifties, abandoned by her husband for a younger woman, and discarded with casual disregard by her younger lover. In order to get closer to him, she creates a fake profile using the images and identity of someone half her age; but then Claire gets wrapped up in an online conversation with his best friend and roommate Alex (François Civil), who falls in love with her avatar Clara just as quickly as Claire falls for him.
Even as her character struggles with the loss of her youth, Binoche is luminous, her face often the primary focus of the camera. Director Safy Nebbou frequently shows her behind glass walls, underlining her solitude and disconnect from the world around her. Her glasses, too, work as a protective barrier, allowing her to remain detached even when she relates the story of her ill-fated romance to her new therapist in scenes that firmly set those events in the past, while clearly marking them as a subjective retelling from Claire’s perspective.
Nebbou’s adaptation of Camille Laurens’s novel makes use of Claire’s literary lectures to establish ties to some of the great French works, drawing on de Laclos’s Dangerous Liaisons or Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance without great subtlety. Here, too, are games being played, and lives meddled with, as Claire pulls the strings, attempting to regain control over her (love) life. But this narrative greatly lacks the targeted finesse of these masterpieces.
Ultimately, the Facebook plot feels contrived and dated, just as the character tropes Nebbou employs. Claire is not only sad and lonely, but also manipulative and messy – a far step back from Binoche’s recent turn in Let the Sunshine In. While the director clearly attempts to move beyond the familiar story by touching on universal issues, his efforts fall flat.
CAST: Juliette Binoche, François Civil, Nicole Garcia
DIRECTOR: Safy Nebbou
WRITERS: Safy Nebbou, Julie Peyr (screenplay), Camille Laurens (based on the novel by)
SYNOPSIS: Claire, a 50-year-old divorced teacher, creates a fake Facebook profile of a 24-year-old woman, using it to catfish her