It’s a familiar story: a girl meets a boy. She, who does not yet know herself well, finds her confidence played on, and the rudeness masked in honesty, attractive. Her emotional distance is seductive. They fall into lust, although she longs for love. He’s bored, fidgety, or something. She’s getting nervous. The relationship (it’s fair to call it that, right?) Dissolves.
Real things, directed by Harry Wootliff (Only you), attempts to reflect the emotional core of this tumultuous story. It’s an intentionally shredded film, by which I mean the rocky plates and the abrupt changes, the weird dreams and the weird fantasies are a commitment to the poetry of this intoxicating romantic experience. But the devices don’t always make the narrative – which requires more detail and logic – easier to believe, and despite the solid performances of the two protagonists, the story sometimes seems inert, nothing to do with the love it does. wants to show.
The bottom line
A poetic but sometimes unconvincing film.
Kate (Ruth Wilson), who works in a benefit office in the English coastal town of Ramsgate, is bored. She spends her days fantasizing about a beach getaway with a lover who doesn’t exist. It is not entirely clear what she wants out of life, but it seems that she is drifting through her days, which turn into weeks, which suddenly turn into months and then years. That is, until an impenetrable man (Tom Burke, of Memory) enters his workplace.
He was recently released from prison and wants to verify a claim. At first, she doesn’t notice his intense eye contact, how gently he closes the space between them. And then she does. He offers her lunch, she politely declines. After work, she sees him in front of his desk. She abandons her friend Alison (Haley Squires) then sleeps with this man in a parking lot. There is an undeniable chemistry between Wilson and Burke, and they easily play shy lovers. Licked lips, furtive gazes and labored breathing create sparkling encounters.
It’s a shame, then, that the real story, the plot points that move us from A to B, don’t have the same energy. After their first date, Kate and the man orbit each other. The euphoria of this love pushes her to act increasingly strange ways: she begins to skip work, abandon her friend, and avoid her family. She does not tell anyone about this man, whose number is stored in her phone under “Blond”. We later learn that their banter is a punishable offense for government employee Kate. Secrecy adds another layer to their illicit encounters.
As Kate spends more time with Blond, however, it seems odd that we viewers don’t know more about either. Real things painted his characters in hazy tones. Kate and Blond desperately remain sketches for most of the film. While this kind of vagueness has its own power, the real excitement in romance comes from the ability to root the couple’s success or demise. But to do this you need an anchor. Who is Kate? What does she want? What is Blond’s name? What is he looking for?
What we do know is the blonde is unreliable, but the sex is awesome. He thinks they are soul mates. Kate jumps at every opportunity to spend time with the young man, growing more and more attached to him and his impulses. Her observations and behavior border on abuse, but she doesn’t notice or care. In one particularly heartbreaking scene, Blond takes Kate to a party, then abandons her for several hours. Drunk and stoned, she wanders the house looking for him, asking strangers if they’ve seen the blond man she came with. When she finally finds him, she demands to know why he left her. He responds in disbelief and insists that she walked away when he went to get a beer.
Kate slowly gets lost and Real things makes the process of destabilization with sensitivity. As she looks more like Blond (she adopts her opinions and passes her observations on to her friends and family), she becomes more addicted to his unreliable presence. She spends evenings writing texts she never sends and waiting for him to return unanswered calls. As Kate heads for an emotional and mental break, she ignores the opportunities that could pull her over the brink. Her friend Alison tries unsuccessfully to intervene by setting up a date for Kate with another guy. But it’s a disaster and ends up straining the women’s relationship.
Or Real things struggles to be convincing, it’s in the way Kate finds herself. Despite how little she knows about Blond, she keeps coming back to him and giving him a second or third chance. I kept asking myself questions about emotional attachment: does he remind her of someone in her life? Beyond her spontaneity, what does she find attractive? While the film handles the process of being subsumed by love well, the characters ultimately feel too skinny to make Kate’s awakening compelling.
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