Tell Me Who I Am


Reviewed by: Sunil Chauhan

Tell Me Who I Am
"A film about how our identities are shaped and how formative experiences shape our notions of normality." | Photo: Courtesy of London Film Festival

A film about memory, family secrets and identity, Tell Me Who I Am tells the moving, disquieting story of Alex and Marcus, two twins and their painful struggle to face a history that, understandably, both have struggled to come to terms with, discuss with one another, and find a passage through.

The film counterpart to a book written by the pair, Tell Me Who I Am is ostensibly a story about rebuilding memories. When Alex loses his memory after a motorcycle accident, it’s left to 18-year-old twin Marcus to help him recover them. Except he doesn’t salvage them so much as absorb shards of his history as decided by his sibling, putting Marcus in a position of considerable control, able to pick and choose which memories should be revealed to Alex and which shouldn’t.

This gives Tell Me Who I Am a mounting sense of mystery, not just because director Ed Perkins has helmed it with an air of reserve. Split into three acts with the first two dedicated to each sibling before they are brought together for the last, the film has a lingering sense of dread as you wait for the inevitable big reveal.

When it comes, filling in earlier gaps with disturbing joins, Tell Me Who I Am becomes more than a horrific family story. It emerges as a film about how our identities are shaped and how formative experiences shape our notions of normality. It also raises the question of whether all memories should be uncovered, a dilemma Marcus has to face with not inconsiderable anguish: If he holds onto these secrets, even as he could appear to be lying, he might protect Alex. If he doesn’t, he might harm him, ruining his chance of living without their burden.

The twins’ closeness is touching, never more so than when Perkins puts them face to face in the film’s final act where we witness the pair discuss their chilling, shared history, one that might cause others in a similar predicament to part ways entirely. That they don’t makes for disarmingly intimate viewing, even if you wonder whether this might not be the first time they’re doing it, despite Perkins setting it up to appear as such. No matter, in light of the tragedy that precedes it, it’s undeniably endearing in its hopefulness.

Reviewed on: 07 Dec 2019
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Tell Me Who I Am packshot
Story of a twin who lost his memory after an accident and the brother who was his only link to his memories - and who faced ethical choices as a result.

Director: Ed Perkins

Year: 2019

Runtime: 85 minutes


London 2019

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