Based on a True Story (2017)

February 7th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir Roman Polanski | Writer: Roman Polanski, Olivier Assayas | Cast: Emmanuelle Seigner, Eva Green

Unusually, there’s a happy ending to this traditionally styled film from Roman Polanski.

Emmanuelle Seigner and Eva Green go tete a tete in a tongue in cheek psychological drama adapted by Polanski and Olivier Assayas from Delphine de Vigan’s story about an author and her envious admirer (D’Apres un Histoire Vrai).

There are shades here of the director’s award-winning 2010 thriller The Ghost Writer, not least because Green’s feisty character pens books for well-known people. That said AFTER A TRUE STORY wears its heart more playfully in a formidly-crafted thriller that inhabits a chic quarter of Paris and a Normandy farmhouse where Seigner’s divorced Delfine spends weekends with her part time lover Francois (played insipidly by Vincent Perez/La Reine Margot) and host of  book programme.

We first meet Delphine at a signing for her latest bestseller as adoring fans extoll the virtues of her literary genius. But Delphine is now struck by writers-block in a period of anxious navel-gazing, and this is where Elle comes into the story.

At first we get the impression that the two are going to be romantically involved as they kiss warmly but this is all part of Polanski’s teasing style. Delphine exuding an air of confidence that Delphine seems to be lacking in her current state of flux but Alexandre Desplat’s unsettling score signals a warning of danger.

Alarmingly Elle soon takes over the writer’s life advising Delphine’s contacts to give her space and strangely she acquiesces. Meanwhile, Francois has dropped out of the story on a name-dropping tour to the US  (Bret Easton Ellis and Cormac McCarthy, don’t you know!) and soon the women are living together in Delphine’s flat – apparently sharing their life together, with Elle even impersonating her at a student lecture.

Green and Seigner are convincing in their roles, as the sassy Elle and more laid-back – almost submissive – Delphine,  but there’s no mistaking a steely side to the author who looks like she’s just rolled out of bed. DP Pawel Edelman’s confident lensing and Jean Rabasse’s sophisticated set design ensure a enjoable watch in this sophisticated game of wits that, unlike Polanski’s usual fare, has a happy outcome leaving us pondering whether the Polish born filmmaker was softening in his dotage. Luckily, as we now know, this was just a blip in the 90 year old director’s landscape. MT



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