With a provocative title like this, I was drawn to catch Roman Polanski‘s Based on A Story when I found out that his real-life wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, was playing in the leading role, along with the enigmatic Eva Green (who last played Miss Peregrine on the big screen in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children).
Delphine (Emmanuelle Seigner) 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, paralysed by the idea of having to start writing again. She then crosses paths with Elle (Eva Green), 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?
Do you find the story confusing from the synopsis?
To simplify, it’s a story about a successful writer who attempts to write the true story of her biggest fan who got close to the writer to mirror the writer’s own life. A story within a story – within a story – which is then published into a best-selling book, based on a true story.
The movie is thought-provoking, but was a little disappointing compared to previous Polanski’s classics like The Pianist, in large part due to the mostly flat storyline.
There is no twist to the story and it develops onscreen exactly as described. The two lives of the two leads crossed path and then you are sucked into Delphine’s world. At times, it becomes difficult to differentiate what’s real and what’s not real in her world – like when Elle offered to attend a book event on Delphine’s behalf, even though everyone knows how Delphine looks like and when you found out that both Elle and Delphine have imaginary friends growing up.
The two leads delivered excellent performances and Green fits the role of the mysterious Elle perfectly with her intense glaze and at times, hollow look. Seigner is convincing as a troubled writer, trying desperately to pick herself up together after a runaway success betraying her own mother.
In spite of the flaws, the movie is still worth the watch for those who like arthouse movies that leave you thinking after you walk out of the cinema.
However, with the current #metoo and #timesup campaign in full swing in Hollywood now, it is not likely Roman Polanski’s latest movie will get much publicity or support though. For those who don’t know about his back history, Polanski has been a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system since 1978 after he was charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl and then fleeing the country.
Roman Polanski’s Based on A True Story is now showing in Singapore cinemas.