Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Based on a True Story (4 Stars)


Any new film directed by Roman Polanski is a cause for excitement. His films can be relied upon to have high quality. A problem I used to have is that his films are made alternately in English and in French, and it's not very common for French films to be shown in England. Now I live in Germany, and one of the local cinemas shows French films every week. Today I was able to see "D'apr├Ęs une histoire vraie" in French with German subtitles. My French is good enough that I would have risked watching it without subtitles, if necessary, but I might have missed some of the subtleties by not knowing individual words.

The film is about Delphine Daryieux, a successful French author, played by Roman Polanski's wife Emanuelle Seigner. Her latest novel, a biographical novel about her mother, is her most successful book so far. Many female readers say it has touched them. However, there are backlashes that the public knows nothing about. She has been receiving anonymous letters criticising her for lying about her family.

Against this background Delphine meets a woman called Elle who calls herself Delphine's biggest fan. Elle is also a writer; she's a ghost writer who has written biographies for many famous celebrities. Delphine is suffering from writer's block and can't start her next novel, but Elle becomes a close friend and encourages her to write a book about herself. At the same time Delphine decides to write a book about Elle, but doesn't tell her about her plans.

The relationship becomes ever closer, as Elle weasels her way into Delphine's life. They move together, supposedly for two weeks while Elle is looking for a new apartment, but it becomes permanent. Elle become jealous of everyone else that Delphine has in her life.


The film has obvious overlaps with "Misery", but it tells its own story. It becomes a tale of cat and mouse as each of the two women tries to exploit the other.

For me personally the film took too long to get going. It ran very slowly in the first half, only speeding up in the second half. The other member of the film group that I was sitting with disagreed with me and enjoyed the slow build up.

I can't be sure, but was there a Nicholas Cage cameo at the end? The man who asked for his book to be signed looked like him, but he isn't listed on the IMDB page. Please let me know your opinion if you see the film.

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