Ruth Wilson delivers a characteristically strong performance in this erotic, intense love story set in an English coastal town. She is Kate, a woman bored with her life and job, who is flattered when a man known only as Blond shows an interest in her. That he’s recently been released from prison is not an issue for her as the two embark on a tempestuous, intimate and deeply unpredictable relationship.
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 102 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Director: Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic
  • Cast: Ruth Wilson, Tom Burke, Hayley Squires

Review by Adelaide Kane

True Things is Harry Wootliff’s exploration of loneliness and female sensuality. Ruth Wilson plays Kate, woman who is doing her best to make it through the mundane nature of life while struggling to form and maintain meaningful connections with the people around her.

Her self-worth seems to be determined by the perspective that others have of her and it leads her down a difficult path as she struggles to define what feelings are real and who she can trust.

She has a morally dubious romance with ‘Blond’ (Tom Burke) that begins after he enters her place of work, the benefits office, after a four month stint in jail. Blond is not necessarily a charming character, but he is a chancer, either way he manages to catch Kate’s attention, something that is probably not very hard as she is desperately searching for some kind of escape in the banality of her life.

It becomes apparent that Blond is an untrustworthy partner as he grows dismissive of her only to pull her back in each time. Just happy to the attention to cling to, Kate seeks his reassurances as she navigates the unsteady territory of understanding her own desires, relationships and sexuality.

Packed full of zoological representations, the power dynamics are highlighted in an, oftentimes, overtly obvious way for the audience to follow, with Blond being reflected as a dog and Kate being referred to as a squirrel multiple times in the film. This sets a clear idea of who is the prey and who is the predator in their relationship, something that is blatant in Blond’s treatment of Kate anyway.

Throughout the picture, Kate’s decisions are questionable to a rational mind and yet her mental decline as she grapples with her own loneliness is a succinctly created image of the pain that is experienced in the privacy of one’s own home. As she spirals, she has no anchor and reaches a low. It is then that it must be seen if Kate is able to push herself to reach a level of self-sustainability that allows her to rekindle more meaningful relationships and move forward without the dead weight of the deadbeat Blond.

Review by Benedict Hudson

True Things is the second feature film from director Harry Wootlif and stars Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke. The film follows Wilson as Kate, a woman who has become lost in a mundane and lonely life. Her dissatisfaction with her current circumstances leads her to become infatuated with a rugged and intriguing man played by Burke, known only as Blond, and the journey this romantic interest takes Kate on leads to self-discovery, found through the joy and pain of trying to navigate her complicated situation.

One thing that immediately stands out about True Things is the camerawork and what the film chooses to show us, particularly the way in which this helps to build the intimate connection with the protagonist. The film is extremely personal, delving into the psychology of Kate and showing us lots of little moments that other films might skip over, such as rethinking a text before sending it or the awkward wait for a date to show up at the bar. These little moments help to highlight the grounded tone of the film and help us to connect on a very human level with Kate. The camerawork is also used very effectively in a similar way, such as the consistent use of close ups throughout the film that help to bring us into Kate’s world and feel the comfort and happiness she feels at times, which makes the wider shots and sharper cuts in other parts of the film more effective in highlighting the harsher parts of Kate’s reality.

The performance from Wilson is a key element in what makes the film work as well as it does; her nuanced portrayal of vulnerability and attempting to get out of a destructive cycle is very captivating and at times heartbreaking. On a similar note, the cyclic nature of film’s pacing may initially seem repetitive, but the way in which certain events continue to happen again and again and certain decisions keep getting made again and again helps to accurately portray how difficult it is to get out of a pain pattern. While the decisions Kate makes may occasionally seem frustrating at first glance, it adds to the film’s realism and makes her character’s arc’s conclusion ultimately more satisfying.

In conclusion, True Things is a beautiful exploration of loneliness and depression made very effective by excellent performances and exceptional camerawork. While the film showcases how difficult it can be to get out of a seemingly bottomless hole in life, it is not devoid of hope and strangely leaves the audience with a feeling of optimism (much like films that explore similar themes such as Manchester by the Sea), which, juxtaposed to the rest of the film, makes the ending all the more powerful.

Review by Brian Griffin

True Things tells the story of a woman named Kate (played by Ruth Wilson), who is bored of her dead-end life, so when a mysterious stranger (played by Tom Burke) sweeps Kate off her feet, her life changes completely. The movie serves as an example of gaslighting and the effects it can have on a person’s life, especially if they aren’t in a good place mentally.

Unfortunately, True Things never seems to hit any heights greater than simply being ok, with a plot better suited to a short and characters that never come across as any more than one dimensional.

Review by Cian Griffin

Coming from writer and director Harry Wootlif, True Things is a quasi-addiction story of a woman on the fringes of society quickly becoming enamoured with the shady and untrustworthy Blond. Ruth Wilson, known for her Golden Globe winning performance in The Affair and her breakout role in Luther, stars as Kate, a woman longing for love. Wilson does her best to elevate a script that ultimately does not provide her with much meat to sink her teeth into and becomes too bogged down in mundanity for its own good. The film plays to Wilson’s strengths, opting for a lot of close up shots in order to show off and highlight her excellent expressiveness as an actress. We watch Kate go through the motions of everyday life, pining after Blond in a second act that is at times frustrating to watch, slow and overly drawn out. The film fails to explore the complexities of their relationship and for the most part, remains extremely surface level, not willing to dive deeper into the character’s psyches, particularly the one-dimensional Blond. It is hard to become emotionally invested in their relationship because we are presented with an unlikeable male lead devoid of any form of character development or nuance.

Wootlif shines as a director through her use of close ups and contrast in order to create an intimate portrayal of a woman desperately yearning for male attention. The film is at its most interesting when it dips its toe into the more surreal and dreamlike elements but these moments are too few and far between. Wootlif expertly contrasts the romantic fantasy elements of Kate’s dreams with the cold and stark reality of her everyday life, particularly in the opening. Wootlif shows off her directorial flourishes creating an extremely atmospheric film and director of photography Ashley O’Connor crafts some truly striking shots, employing vivid colours and gorgeous lighting but both are ultimately let down by a dull and uninspired script.

Setting out to portray the impact of a toxic relationship and a woman trying to find her place in the world, thematically the film will strike a chord with some audiences. Watching Kate become intoxicated with Blond is not romanticised in any way and is presented as a bleak look at romantic addiction as Kate looks beyond herself for external validation but the film struggles to provide much substance or bring anything new to the conversation. The film is too overt, almost beating audiences over the head with its messaging and lacking in subtly. Blond is so obviously toxic and going to disappoint Kate that we cannot even understand why she is with him in the first place.

Overall, an intriguing opening and a strong lead performance are not enough to save this film fromthe lethargic and plodding second act and a very depthless script. Wootlif proves herself to be a competent director and the film does show glimmers of potential but overall, collapses under the weight of its own mundanity.

Review by Darragh Hynes

A predictable plot carried by two strong leads!

From director, Harry Wootliff, True Things centres around a woman named Kate (Ruth Wilson), who is stuck in a dead-end job and wants so much more out of her life than just this.

All of this changes when she meets a blond man (Tom Burke) and she instantly falls in love with him.

The main theme that True Things tackles is how loneliness and boredom can severely affect one’s mental health. The film’s biggest issue is that the story is a little predictable. I have seen how this kind of plot about a woman falling in love often plays out and it is easy to tell what will happen before it occurs. Although, the performances by Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke are what elevates this film with their intriguing chemistry, as well as a good use of character symbolism through the cinematography.

Review by Ellie McCarthy

Directed by Harry Wootliff, It follows a young woman living on the fringes of society who becomes intoxicated by a stranger who overwhelms her quiet life. This would be my least favourite of the three films. I found the acting by main characters Ruth Wilson and Tom Bourke interesting. I found that they had good chemistry but their dialogue was quite weak.

It did not have a natural flow and felt clunky. I found their relationship one that can be seen but not talked about a lot. Their dynamics as actors was great to watch but I found the dialogue made it flat. I thought visually the cinematography was impressive. Especially in the house party scene I find the visuals aided the clunky dialogue. The use of phones throughout was a good touch and helped with the fight scenes, which I found quite unnatural. Overall I found the visuals the best aspect of the film. I thought the biggest disappointment is the dialogue. It was awkward and clunky and interrupted a lot of the scenes. The Audio was mixed quite well. While I found some aspects of the film well executed, I probably would not watch it again.

Review by Emily Macrander

After delivering a strong debut with Only You in 2018, director Harry Wootliff returns with another love story that follows a couple entering into an unlikely relationship that turns sour. True Things’ protagonist Kate played by Ruth Wilson is a single woman who has confined herself to a life on the fringes of society, detached, but not detached enough to prevent her from falling for Tom Burke’s Blond, the epitome of a fresh-out-of-prison bad boy.

DP Ashley Connor’s frames are beautiful and sensual, focussing on minuscule details that make it seem as if we can feel the character’s breath on our own skin. Yet, in relaying this sense of closeness to the characters, the images also feel as entrapping as Blond’s hold over Kate turning into a rigidness that ultimately makes the narrative feels formulaic and predictable. True Things is at its best when it breaks away from its own conventions.

Review by Eoin O'Donnell

When Kate’s tedium is interrupted by the roguish, charismatic Blonde, she begins to leave everything behind to pursue only the ‘true things’ in life.

This is a working-class tale, one of bare shelves, box rooms and unpaid bills; Kate toils at a job she hates, and one which seems to hate her. If Ken Loach’s influence wasn’t already felt, I, Daniel Blake’s Hayley Squires solidifies it.

The film is mostly composed of close-ups and handheld shots, and the aspect ratio lends a sense of closeness; between the black bars, the tiny apartments and stagnant office buildings might as well be prisons.

Much like Kate, True Things is muddled, complicated and occasionally heartfelt. It’s as much about the absence of love as it is a love story, and whilst it never quite answers its lofty questions, Wilson and Burke are strong enough leads to make the journey more compelling than its destination.

Review by Hazel O'Leary

When Kate, a bored government worker falls hard for the bleach blonde, walking red flag that stumbles into her life, desperate for both affection and excitement, she allows her life to be turned upside-down for this all-too-unimpressive man in Harry Wootliffe’s True Things.

Promising to be a thoughtful character study of a woman on the edge and exploration of female sexuality, True Things, unfortunately, fails to fully deliver on this promise. Dragging somewhat in the first act, and rushing in the third act to the climax of the film, we seemingly miss out on important character moments to explain how we got there.

With some impactful moments and impressive set pieces giving us an insight into Kate’s psyche, what really saves True Things are the performances of Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke as Kate and Blond, whose chemistry on-screen is undeniable, giving the film an air of credibility.

Review by Jamie Waddell

True Things is the second feature film by writer/director Harry Wootliff. Set in an English coastal town, we follow Kate (Ruth Wilson) as she stumbles through her rather mundane existence. That is until she meets the mysterious Blond (Tom Burke), a boozy, sluggish man-child who she begins to fall for despite her better judgement.

True Things is attempting to hold on to the smouldering coattails of cultural touchstones like Normal People and Outlander. A psychodrama filled with intimate, extensive sexual encounters that try to pull the story forward. in fact, grind it to a stuttering halt. 

Ruth Wilson is doing her utmost to bring some life to Kate in the many moments of silence both visually and narratively in the latter half of the film. Alas, Wootliff uses sex and sexual imagery to plaster over the wafer-thin plot, preventing the film from being anything other than an erotic flop.

Review by John Brady

The opening of ‘True Things’ is incredibly efficient. It depicts a sexual encounter between what we assume are two lovers, a man and a woman . A close up of the woman, (our protagonist Kate) reveals for her this is more than an encounter, this is an experience. This is followed by a sharp transition to reality. Where Kate works at a call center. Director Harry Wootliff employs a dichotomous style here that works wonders. The opening is bright, calm and sexy. The second scene is dull, grey and about as erotic as a wet fish. The film constantly switches between these twocontrasting styles. It is in this constant comparison where the film thrives. It is how we come to understand our protagonist. She finds the mundanity of real life unbearable. She longs for something more. Something true.

She is willing to forsake her own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around her in order to find true human connection. Indeed, the film is not very interested in anyone else's perspective, only Kate's. The intimate cinematography is striking. We are constantly right up next to her, looking directly into her eyes. Unfortunately, this is where my praise for the film ends. 

A lot of the film rests on Ruth Wilson's shoulders. Yet Wilson’s performance is far too restrained. There's never a moment where it feels like she gives herself to the role. I felt like I was watching a performance, once you get that feeling, it's hard to shake. Tom Burke is also disappointedly one note as the rugged stranger Kate is infatuated with. He does not leave much room for interpretation regarding his feelings toward her. A disconnect between the audience and the protagonist develops very quickly. Kate seldom questions her devotion to this man, yet he barely notices her. Yes, it is established that she craves an escape from the mundanity of her life. However, the lengths to which her dedication goes are difficult to stomach.

Perhaps this was a conscious decision by the writers. Perhaps they wanted the audience to reflect on the decisions Kate makes in a negative manner. Nonetheless, it makes for a disjointing viewing experience. This all culminates in a finale that feels entirely unearned. Writers Molly Davies and Harry Wootliff fail to add any complexity to the relationship at the heart of the film. It’s a shame, because the concept had so much potential. The opening presents us with an engaging character with a want that's ripe for drama.

However, the writers do not put in the leg work to craft fully rounded characters, leaving the lead actors little to work with. As a result, it's impossible to buy into the main character's journey. Or anyone else's for that matter. Despite a strong opening and striking cinematography, True Thing is a dull affair with underwhelming performances. 

Quote: Very well brought up indeed

Review by Juliana Wong

By the time we meet our main character, Kate (Ruth Wilson), it is clear that her life is boring. Working in the benefits' office and constantly fantasising about running away with a lover to a remote beach, not much happens to her. Kate does not seem to have the best dating history, as her best friend keeps trying to set her up for a blind date, to which she goes with no enthusiasm. Until a  mysterious man (Tom Burke), so mysterious that we finish the movie not even knowing his name, appears at her job and flips Kate's life upside down. 

The main character gets amused by the change of scenarios that Blond, his contact name in Kate's phone, represents, one could even say that his red flags were exactly what turned her on. Being recently out of prison, the man visits the office, and smoothly flirts with her as they meet. Kate initially declines his attempts to invite her out. However, after finishing work, she ends up leaving her friend Alison (Haley Squires) to have sex with the stranger in a garage, something that in normal circumstances she would have never done. Meeting Blond, for Kate, was like allowing herself to colour outside the lines for the first time. 

The chemistry between the actors is palpable and combined with the close shots, that give the perspective that the viewer is a little fly in the wall watching everything, the steamy scenes feel like they come straight from a romance book. The essence of the director's, Harry Wootliff, adaptation of Deborah Kay Davies’ novel “True Things About Me” can be fully felt in the scene Kate and Blonde's first date. He takes her to the top floor of a parking lot, and they have sex there. This is when Ashley Connor’s camera goes soft and gets surprisingly close, allowing the audience to deeply understand the characters' feelings. Blond's hands go through Kate’s hair, and the hyper-sensuality carried by the scene is perfectly framed by Connor.

The rest of "True Things" follows the expectations of redemption that Kate has from Blond as he turns out not to be the perfect man she fantasised about, but rather confirms the red flags that he appeared to initially have. Meanwhile, Kate is also losing herself as she becomes more and more addicted to Blond's presence and turns out to be less like she used to be. She spends nights thinking about text messages to send him and waiting for him to call her back. Another interesting thing is that everyone around Kate seems to notice that there are things going wrong. However, she does not seem to appreciate the interventions and even ends up losing her friend in the process. 

Something that stands out is that, despite how little she (and the audience) finish the movie knowing about Blond, she keeps returning to him and giving him several opportunities. It is quite hard not to wonder a couple of things: What, other than his smooth talk and adventurous spirit, does she find appealing? Is there more to their relationship than sex? Did she have someone like Blond in her life before, and is trying to relive the experience through this new man?

Review by Khushi Jain

Loneliness and desire, and the loneliness of desire sit at the centre of Harry Wootliff’s True Things. The film opens with a striking sequence of oral sex, immersing the viewer into the realm of lust. The subjectivity of the narrative is also established as the man remains completely anonymous and the woman demands full focus.

Meet Kate. Kate (Ruth Wilson), a middle-aged woman from Ramsgate, is nourishing a stale and sequestered life between her dead-end job and soporific domesticity. This life is stirred into excitement by a man she meets at work, referred to in the film only as ‘Blond’ (Tom Burke).

An innocent lunch date turns into spontaneous sex at a car park and Kate finds herself bewitched by the thrilling idea of Blond. What follows is a tempest of a relationship. Blond operates in the extremes; a romantic sweetheart one minute and disturbingly nonchalant the next. Kate feeds on his scraps of attention remaining tethered to him, until he disappears and she is forced to scrutinise her situation.

Starvation and contentment are central themes of True Things. It all boils down to Kate’s appetites and the emotional extremes she is willing to bear to satisfy them. One of the first things we learn about Kate is that she eats lunch alone. The Freudian dyad of sex and hunger is efficiently balanced throughout the film, starting with the lunch-cum-sex date. Spatially,True Things moves between the natural and urban, and Kate’s consciousness responds to these oscillations. Little things, like the dead plant in her house, come together to paint a picture of her life. And the ending is a subtle mirror to the opening, establishing a sound plot structure.

Despite such narrative treatment, True Things fails to impress. Kate clings to Blond as her only escape, but we aren’t given anything to hold on to. Kate as the protagonist is incomplete and threadbare, giving us nothing to root for. Inadequate background makes it difficult to contextualise her. Why is she in Ramsgate? Why is she alone? What have her past relationships been like? Questions linger but the film never answers them and this becomes increasingly frustrating. If this was perhaps done to intensify the character’s emptiness and lack of rootedness, it needed careful execution, especially given the very personal and psychological nature of the narrative. The film is missing an unconscious. Even an established cast and source material (True Things About Me by Deborah Kay Davies) are not able to save True Things.

The film’s authentic exploration of female desire is worth commending. It employs the very intimate ‘gross woman’ trope, is clear on Kate’s position as the subject of desire and even objectifies her male object by nominally reducing him to his hair-colour. Kate’s isolation in this toxic relationship repeatedly clashes with her sexual desires and need for companionship.

But the deficiency of her character continues to be discomforting and corrupts the emotional conclusion of the film.True Things is honest, but at the end of the day it is a thin effort. Cunnilingus and Kate are at best floaty and forgettable.

Review by Kieran Brennan

Kate (Ruth Wilson) becomes increasingly frustrated in her mundane and unsatisfying life, following a chance encounter with the impulsive, and potentially dangerous unnamed client (Tom Burke) she works with one day, Ruth enters a relationship with the man, and begins a downward spiral alongside him.

Directed by Harry Wootliff, True Things looks at toxic relationships, or more specifically how an individual who is seemingly well put together can enter, and be affected by one. It can be difficult to convince an audience that a couple that's so clearly destructive can find each other and for the protagonist to not immediately get out of that situation, at least an audience who've never experienced such a thing. What makes that idea work here is the chemistry between Wilson and Burke, they both excel in their roles as Wilson plays the timid woman being taken advantage of and Burke the slimy but charming man that takes advantage of her. Burke's performance in particular is what makes this work. He's just appealing enough to both Kate and the audience that we understand why you may be drawn to his charismatic personality, but just off putting enough that we know he should be kept at a distance at all times. Complimenting this is the gorgeous cinematography by Ashley Connor, its claustrophobic feeling adding much weight to Wilson's character, placing us in her head and creating a grounded perspective, but also an almost unnerving atmosphere.

However, the pacing of True Things fails to live up to the quality of the rest of the production. At a brisk 90 minutes, it feels way too fast. Character development happens at a breakneck pace, every beat in its structure happens too soon and feels unnatural and underdeveloped. The characters leap forwards too fast in a way that instead of the audience understanding and relating to Kate's changes throughout the story, we are taken out of the film and question the speed at which these changes happen. It's forgivable to a point, but ultimately leads to a final act and in particular a final sequence that feels unearned and underwhelming. With this, the
editing of the film can be called into question. It doesn't necessarily feel as though things have cut out, but rather the editing feels snappy in front of an already snappy script. While this is most certainly a film lovely long meandering segments that are visually pleasing, they're editing in a way that saps the energy from them.

While the production side of True Things holds up extremely well, its script and editing can leave a lot to be desired and let's down the overall experience of the film. Worth seeing for performances and cinematography, but tempered expectations of the impact of this film on you are cautioned.

Review by Leone Wright

“True Things” is a clever title for a film so closely related to lies. Is the truth what we tell ourselves? Or, perhaps it’s the viewpoint of an objective stranger? In this case our protagonist “Kate” played by Ruth Wilson 1 is given the same amount of information as the audience, but we gain more of the truth. As she falls in love, we as the audience get more cautious towards endeavors of the heart.

Tom Burke who played the extremely difficult role of Blond succeeded in making me hate his character which is a true compliment to his acting abilities (and of course Harry Wootliff’s incredible direction). However, Ashley Connor the director of photography made the whole movie worth watching for its beautiful camera angles and perfectly framed shots alone. Even if this movie had no words, Connor’s shots, Wilsons adoring eyes and Burkes intimidating stare could tell it all.

Review by Nellie Warren

The word ‘toxic’ belongs in ‘intoxicating’ for a reason, especially in relation to Harry Wootliff’s new film, “True Things.” The bizarre and intense chemistry between the two leads in undeniable, and despite being sometimes uncomfortable to watch, can also be fascinating. Although the viewer likely knows how it will end from the moment it begins, isn’t there something terribly alluring about watching a car crash?

As mentioned, the performances by Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke are the strongest aspect of “True Things,” and are largely responsible for carrying the film. But something is missing: the rugged delivery of the narrative, though intentionally done that way, seems to separate the audience from the characters, enough to where certain scenes do not convey what is intended. Or at least, the viewer feels removed from the intensity of the relationship.

Although the performances are impressive and the camerawork often beautiful, there is nothing quite unique enough about this story for it to stand out.

Review by Philip Spillane

Kate is going through a mid-life crisis; she’s single, works a boring job, and her Mom and Dad want her to get married. Her boss wants her to step up and stop being late - her life changes when she meets Blond.

True Things is based on a book by Deborah Key Davies, brought to the big screen by Harry Wootfliff, directing her second feature film. You are taking on a journey through Kate’s desires, heartaches, and her hopeful escape.

Golding Globe actress Ruth Wilson carries the role, as we learn why Kate may fall for someone so domineering and mysterious as Blond, played by Tom Burke; superbly bringing across this edgy but toxic individual.

“Sounds like a bloody prison” he scoffs at Kate when she tells him about her work, then he asks her out, “Make it happen.” Kate falls for his charm, and the next scene is an erotic exchange between them in a multistory car park.

Opposites attract, as Kate comes from a stable childhood, and Blond is fresh out of prison, brought up on the wrong side of Kent. We never know Blonde’s real name, which adds to the tension of who exactly is Kate getting involved with. Is this relationship dangerous?

The film's strength is Kate’s dreams; they blur into reality. She always dreams of the sea, and Blond takes her there. He gives her love, sex and trill. Her dreams can be real, and they could be real with Blond.

Yet they can also be stark metaphors, as she imagines waking on the shore with a black dog; what can this tell us about the true meaning of their relationship? As the audience cannot help but ask, is Kate being used?

As one horrible scene shows, Blond abandons her drunk and vulnerable at a house party.

Even if the film peaks with Kate’s life is falling apart around her, a change of setting near the end does slow down the pace of the drama; maybe the director didn’t want to leave anything out of how our protagonist may rise against her challenges, and come out the other end.

This movie might have the impression of an intense love drama, but it’s not just about someone who gets involved in a destructive relationship. It's about a woman who deserves so much more, tries to get out of the middle-class society and marriage pressure. Who finds a way to say to the world, “Had to run, see ya!”

Review by Pia Roycroft

Based on the book True Things About Me by Deborah Kay Davies, True Things is a story about naivety, abuse, selflessness and selfishness.

It follows the life of Kate (Ruth Wilson), a social worker with a monotonous life who is jealous of others' relationships and lives. Her schedule is immediately shaken up by the arrival of Blonde (Tom Burke), who Kate instantly donnes a pair of rose-tinted glasses for, ignoring all of the signs that he may not be the heartthrob she’s always wished for.

The film is accurate in portraying the naivety of those desperate enough to settle for scum, but overall is a predictable story that may have been better conveyed in literary form. Despite this, the film is ultimately supported by the stunning cinematography, soundtrack and wonderful performances by Wilson and Burke, who portray their onscreen entanglement so well that it makes the film worth the watch.

Review by Ronan Watters

True Things strength lies in the chemistry between its two leads, Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke. Wilson in particular deserves special mention. Although you’ll want to shake sense into her for falling for the Jack the Lad ways of Burkes Blond, Wilsons empathetic portrayal of the emotionally troubled Kate has you rooting for her.

The characters lack of background and why they behave in this manner is never explained in full detail, which in itself is both a strength and a weakness. The symbolism tells us all we need to know about Blond, he is the dog leading Kate on wherever he pleases, knowing she can’t resist. We know that Kate wants love and attention, but what does Blond get out of it, and what are his motivations?

The film is good, but the thin storytelling keeps it from standing out.

Review by Tess O'Regan

Director Harry Wootliff’s sophomore feature True Things (2021) is a quiet and intimate look at the psychological side of abusive relationships. Adapted from Deborah Kay Davies 2010 novel True Things About Me, the film follows Kate (Ruth Wilson) as she begins a relationship with a mysterious man (Tom Burke) and is pulled further and further into his orbit. Coercive control is a central theme here and with domestic abuse rates rising after several lockdowns globally, Wootliff’s film couldn’t have come at a more apt time.

Wootliff directs a stripped back but emotional picture. She places us firmly in Kate’s mindscape, taking us along for her adventures, dreams, and– in one memorable sequence–her inebriated hallucinations. Wilson is more than capable of acting the part too. The Luther actor gives a pedantic performance, physically embodying Kate’s inner turmoil in her idiosyncrasies so much so that as the film progresses you could remove all dialogue and Kate’s journey would still be traceable. That being said, Wootliff and Molly Davies’s screenplay packs a punch. In a vulnerable moment between the couple Blonde (Burke) tells Kate: “We’re the same you and me... We’re soulmates”. Delivered by Tom Burke, what should be a romantic line becomes oddly sinister. This is characteristic of Burke’s Blonde who manages to walk the line between charismatic and threatening for the entire of its 102 minute run time. Collaborating with intimacy coordinator Ita O’Brien (fostering a much more toxic dynamic than the one she helped create in Normal People), the two leads have constructed a magnetic and terrifying onscreen chemistry that is not to be missed.

However, above all it is the visuals of True Things that really stand out. Ashley Connor (known for her work on Knives Out and Our Idiot Brother) is director of photography and signs her work with explosive lens flares and jerky focus pulling at moments of high
stress and intoxication in the film. She is more than capable of being understated too and, in keeping with the tone of the pro-filmic aspects, captures Wilson’s emotional range with simple, clean cinematography. In Connor’s hands a trip to the woods becomes a verdant idyllic escape but keeps an undercurrent of tension running beneath it all. The film is littered with images of nature. From the bitter English seafront of Kent to the stifling warmth of Spain, Connor all but paints Kate’s mindscape with the scenery. Wootliff does a splendid job, firmly rooting the protagonist in her environment, using Connor’s camera to portray her difficult journey.

Produced by Ruth Wilson, Jude Law, Ben Jackson, and Tristan Goligher, True Things is a stripped back and effective psychological drama. Production companies BBC Film, Lady Lazarus, The Bureau, and Riff Raff have come together, along with additional funding from the BFI, to make a dark and potent portrait of abuse. Alex Baranowski’s thoughtful score sharpens emotional beats in this adaptation of Deborah Key Davies’s novel which premiered in Venice in 2021.

Review by William Walsh

Harry Wootliff’s True Things is about Kate (Ruth Wilson), a woman whose ordinary life becomes interesting when she meets a mysterious man played by Tom Burke. He is quite aggressive and does not seem to treat Kate with respect, but her utter infatuation with him makes her to look past his flaws, causing serious changes in her life.

While this description makes the film sound like a problematic romance film, it is more of a film about a woman who is uncertain of how she will progress later in life, only knowing that she wishes to progress in some way. For proof of its intimacy, the film is almost akin to László Nemes' Son of Saul in how its small aspect ratio and intimate shooting style focus on the main character.

Though the ending is a tad predictable and anti-climactic, True Things is a character study that deserves a recommendation.