“You need to find your tribe.”Blond
“Beguiling, aren’t you?” Kate is asked early on, and that is an apt description for True Things, with its exclusively female perspective exploring the heady and unsettling experience of being derailed by a toxic relationship. Director Harry Wootliff’s approach is constructed around subjectivism, so we learn very little about Kate’s ex-con lover, only identified as “Blond”. The audience is likely more primed now than when the book was released in 2010 immediately to recognise Blond’s manipulative gaslighting, but Kate is not presented a victim — she has agency in choosing to stay and to pull away, and we know her perspective is unreliable as she uses him to escape her own frustrations. This is clearest as we watch her dance uninhibited in a Spanish nightclub, dancing only for herself, and so we see the dancefloor deserted. Early on, it is achieved through editing, with a week vanishing suddenly since Kate’s life is stagnant when separated from Blond, which is why she finds herself returning to him. Its depiction of female lust is appropriately devoid of the male gaze — both the director and cinematographer are women — instead capturing subjectively intimate moments. Shot in the Academy ratio, the close-cropped square frame is at first claustrophobic but its shifting focus reflects Kate’s own headspace, without the distraction of elements in the wider frame. True Things contains a multitude of wonderful subtleties, carried by Ruth Wilson’s understated realism, which makes its lack of substance all the more frustrating. Wootliff plainly wants the viewer to insert their own experiences but that makes what is actually present more ephemeral.