True Things is not easy to watch.
Like a train wreck happening in slow motion, the film’s lead character, Kate, moves inexorably closer to self-destruction as the plot unfolds, and the only real intrigue is around just how bad the damage will be.
Played with a fragility by the excellent English actor, Ruth Wilson, who was the protagonist in the BBC’s 2006 TV adaption of Jane Eyre, Kate is really not good at “adulting”.
Somehow hopeful and hopeless at the same time, she reminds you a bit of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, only nothing here is played for laughs.
Adapted from the 2011 novel, True Things about Me, by Deborah Kay Davies, the movie opens with a steamy dream sequence.
Kate, you see, has vivid imaginings of lusty encounters, which may be a reaction to her everyday life.
She toils away in a mundane job at a social services business that seems intent on sucking the life out of her.
She visits her parents, who are sweet, but clearly see their single, 30-something daughter, as a bit of a tragic case, in need of constant advice and condescending affirmation.
Her friend, Alison, played by I, Daniel Blake star Hayley Squires, takes a similar approach to Kate’s folks, gently chiding her for being late for work and offering to set her up on dates with uptight and very vanilla men.
So, when an ex-con with a raffish hair lip wanders in to her work, seeking the services of the business to get his life back on track, and promptly propositions her, Kate soon falls for his advances.
Fresh from playing Orson Welles in David Fincher’s Mank, Tom Burke is well-cast as the ex-con, giving it the appropriate amount of “You alright, darling” to convey a dangerous allure.
A whirlwind romance follows, with plenty of risky sex in public, although it is quickly apparent any serious feelings are flowing in one direction.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise by now to learn Kate has fallen much harder than our ex-con, who does just enough to draw her obsession, but operates on the old adage that one must treat ‘em mean to keep ‘em keen.
Director Harry Wootliff, who gave us the acclaimed 2019 romantic drama, Only You, is pretty comfortable working in this space, and has a fine eye for setting up a scene.
But the film ultimately meanders along when it needed to be a bit more deliberate in its intent.
Worth watching for Wilson’s performance, especially if you need to feel better about your own life.
Starring: Ruth Wilson, Tom Burke, Hayley Squires
In cinemas: Now