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Based On A True Story

Opening Date
25 Jan 2018
PG13 Some Coarse Language
101 mins
French with English subtitles
Comedy, Drama, Mystery
Roman Polanski
Emmanuelle Seigner, Eva Green, Vincent Perez
Delphine is the author of a highly personal novel about her mother, which has become a bestseller.
Already exhausted by the endless demands for interviews and made vulnerable by her memories, Delphine is soon tormented by anonymous letters accusing her of having turned her family into a source of gossip. The novelist has stalled, paralyzed by the idea of having to start writing again.
She then crosses paths with Elle, a young and attractive woman, who is also intelligent and intuitive. Elle understands Delphine better than anyone. Delphine becomes attached to her, she confides in her, lets herself go.
How far will Elle go, now that she has moved into Delphine's place? Has she come to fill a void or create one? Give Delphine a new breath of life or steal her life from her?
By Say Peng  31 Jan 2018
Unfortunately, one must file his latest film, Based on a True Story, as not just a minor work, but probably the first Polanski film that failed.
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We expect nothing less than great, if not competent, films from Roman Polanski, the French-Polish director who has given us such classics as Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist. But unfortunately, one must file his latest film, Based on a True Story, as not just a minor work, but probably the first Polanski film that failed. Well known for specializing in psychological dramas set in interior spaces, Based on a True Story continues in that tradition. It stars Emmanuelle Seigner, who has previously acted in four of Polanski’s films, as Delphine, a successful and exhausted author who is fed up with autographing her book based on her mother’s mental illness and entertaining fans who come up to her to express how much her book has changed their lives. Along comes Eva Green’s character, who introduces herself as ‘Elle’ or ‘Her’ in English. 

Elle is a ghostwriter for celebrities and an ardent fan of Delphine. They meet at Delphine’s book-signing session, but an exhausted Delphine does not pay much attention to her. Later that night, at a private party, Delphine recognizes Elle and they share an intimate conversation. It’s the beginning of what would become an odd parasitic relationship. The premise of the film is great and has the potential to become a classical Polanski thriller. We don’t know Elle’s motives and, as a result, are constantly kept in suspense and that is what drives the film successfully for its first half as Elle slowly ingratiate herself to Delphine. At first, we buy how she does so. She poses as an extremely concerned, bordering on obsessive, fan who cares about nothing other than helping Delphine concentrate on writing, in particular, the “hidden, dangerous, personal” book that she was meant to write. Pretty soon, Elle is living with Delphine, which is believably set up, and she takes over Delphine’s email and, unbeknownst to Delphine, messages all of Delphine’s friends to ask them to stay away. 

The stakes keep getting higher and, at some points, it tips over to sheer incredibility, but by that time, we stay with the film out of sheer curiosity as to how it will all end. Disappointingly, the film fizzles out, concluding with no payoff.
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