True Things movie review & film summary (2022)

ytsfreeSeptember 10, 2022

Sex might get everything started in “True Things,” and may be the primary destabilizing force (as it often is in real life), but the real subject of “True Things,” the source of every event onscreen, is loneliness, the damage loneliness can do. As Douglas Copeland once wrote: “Forget sex or politics or religion. Loneliness is the subject that clears out a room.” Being lonely, and admitting to being lonely, is the real taboo.

Kate (Wilson) works as a benefit claims officer, and her job consists of interviewing mostly angry people about their various claims, telling them they need to come in with the proper paper work. Temper tantrums ensue. When she’s not working, she scrolls through Tinder, in a fugue state. She’s so unenthusiastic about her job she’s on thin ice with the boss and with her friend (Hayley Squires) who got her the job. Then one day a guy (Tom Burke) sits down at her desk to go over his claim. His hair is dyed blonde, he just got out of prison, but most striking is his rakish grin, a grin directed right at her with a weird mischief, like the two of them share a secret. She topples like a house of cards. He’s waiting for her outside after work, and in less than five minutes, they’re having standup sex in a parking garage. She doesn’t even know his name. We never learn his name. She puts his number into her phone under the name “Blond.” 

Erica Jong wrote a whole book about this particular kind of thrill. Kate isn’t just into it, or him. She needs the high he provides. He’s so easily intimate with her, displaying unexpected moments of kindness, as though they are an established couple. When she bumps her head against a cement column during their first sexual encounter, he stops and says, “You okay, love?” He comes on strong, but not in a villainous way. She’s obviously very receptive. In what feels like a matter of a week, Kate has disintegrated, because, of course, Blond is intimate and fun, but he is also mercurial and manipulative, he runs hot-and-cold, he calls her a “soulmate” and then pulls back quickly. In textbook fashion, this unpredictable behavior makes her need him even more.

This may be frustrating for some. He’s so clearly “bad news”! Yes, but he’s bad news with a rakish grin. The rakish grin is very important! He is also into her in a disarmingly upfront way, so different from the guys she’s set up with, who talk about their jobs and forget to ask her about herself. (One of these dates ends horribly when Kate tries to push the guy into more Blond-like behavior, just so she can get her fix. It’s excruciating.) Desire, sex, needs finally fulfilled, waking up with someone next to you in bed, all of that can mess with a lonely person’s radar, and Kate’s radar is already damaged when the film starts. Her work friend, who has clearly counseled Kate through many bad relationships in the past, asks her in exasperation: If you want to “settle down,” then why are you wasting time with this Bad Boy?

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