French tale drenched in emo­tion

Sunday Tribune - - FILM - DEB­O­RAH YOUNG BASED ON A TRUE STORY DI­REC­TOR: Ro­man Polan­ski CAST: Em­manuelle Seigner, Eva Green, Vin­cent Perez RUN­NING TIME: 100 min CLAS­SI­FI­CA­TION: 13L RAT­ING: 3/5

THERE are mul­ti­ple lev­els on which to en­joy Ro­man Polan­ski’s Based on a True Story (D’apres une his­toire vraie), none of them very deep or com­pli­cated.

But to­gether they raise the res­o­nance of a mas­ter­fully made psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller in the tra­di­tional mode. A teas­ing, tongue-in-cheek tale of lit­er­ary can­ni­bal­ism, it’s a film with in-jokes that will play best with au­di­ences who watch France Cul­ture pro­grammes and recog­nise ref­er­ences.

Here the screen­play, adapted by Polan­ski and French au­teur Olivier As­sayas from Delphine de Vi­gan’s novel, is an in­ti­mate woman’s story about one di­a­bol­i­cal mind at­tempt­ing to take over an­other.

The di­rec­tor’s muse Em­manuelle Seigner steps into the laid-back threads of Delphine, a best-sell­ing writer who we meet at a book fair be­sieged by her ador­ing fans, cap­tured by the cam­era in an amus­ing se­ries of flash car­i­ca­tures. She’s ob­vi­ously at the top of her game and her boyfriend, Fran­cois (Vin­cent Perez), the host of a book pro­gramme on French TV, isn’t bad, ei­ther. But faced with the blank white Word page on her com­puter screen, she’s un­able to pro­duce a sin­gle syl­la­ble of her new novel.

En­ter the beau­ti­ful Elle (Eva Green at her se­duc­tive, taunt­ing best), who she ca­su­ally meets at the book fair and later bumps into again at a party. The chic young woman presents her­self to Delphine as her great ad­mirer and a hum­ble ghost writer, cur­rently at work on a hush-hush au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. Elle so clearly means trou­ble that the au­di­ence will have red lights flash­ing as soon as Alexan­dre De­s­plat’s mock­ing score hits its first few warn­ing notes. But Delphine, ex­hausted from her pro­mo­tional labours, is taken in by the young woman and lit­er­ally opens the door of her life to this be­witch­ing stranger. Elle’s trap un­folds with silken dead­li­ness.

Ad­mit­tedly, squeezing drama and sus­pense out of a writer’s her­mit life is no short or­der, and for all their con­certed ef­forts, de Vi­gan and the screen­writ­ers go no fur­ther than mildly alarm­ing the au­di­ence as to the out­come of Elle’s in­ten­tions. She sends mes­sages to all Delphine’s friends and pro­fes­sional as­so­ciates telling them to keep away so she can con­cen­trate on her writ­ing.

But in­stead of urg­ing the writer to start her book on the dif­fi­cul­ties re­al­ity TV stars have re­turn­ing to civil­ian life, she coaxes her in­stead to write the “hid­den, dan­ger­ous, per­sonal book” lurk­ing in­side her, based on her own life ex­pe­ri­ences. – Hol­ly­wood Re­porter

Em­manuelle Seigner as Delphine and Eva Green as Elle, in a scene from ‘Based on a True Story’.

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