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Chaos Reigns

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TIFF

MOVIE REVIEW
True Things (2021)

Some people lead messy lives. They can’t get out of bed in the morning. They can’t get to work on time. You don’t have to relate to them. You don’t even have to like them. You must, however, recognize their existence. There really haven’t been many movies about these folks. “Four Weddings and a Funeral” seems to be the last to leave a lasting impression, and that’s almost three decades ago. “True Things” is one such movie though, about an individual who can’t get her act together and doesn’t bother trying.

Routine tardiness has earned Kate (Ruth Wilson), a benefit claims agent, a final warning from her supervisor (Michael Moreland). Her lack of both self-discipline and sound judgment doesn’t end there. She succumbs to the charms of a claimant, Blond (Tom Burke), the Worst Fuckboi Ever: the actor reprising his “The Souvenir” performance here, since he obviously has no part in Joanna Hogg’s sequel. He shags Kate in the car park. He convinces her to play hooky from work. He borrows her car and vanishes for more than a week. One day he tells her they’re soulmates; the next he exasperatedly ridicules her for wanting a relationship. Despite his hot-and-cold toxicity, she doesn’t possess the self-respect to cut him off . . . yet.

It can be terribly frustrating to invest in a protagonist on the path of self-destruction. Co-writer and director Harry Wootliff, adapting from a Deborah Kay Davies novel, gives us little context to go on as to what drives Kate’s codependency. But the trajectory rings true. Her relationship dynamic seems very familiar, even if there hasn’t been much cinematic exploration of it.

She is fixated on getting her fix. His mood swings only trigger her insecurities, prompting her to risk her job and other personal relationships in a single-minded pursuit of the next emotional high. For her part, Kate seems to recognize this pattern that has manifested itself with Blond is unhealthy, and she meets another man, Rob (Tom Weston-Jones), on a date. He is instantly put off by her coming on too strong, which hints at the sociopathic ways Blond has exploited her vulnerability. But the film’s resolution falls a bit short. Kate eventually reaches an epiphany, although "True Things” doesn’t make it explicit whether she has finally found her worth or just grown weary of his games.

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