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I Don’t Know Who You Are – BFI Flare 2024 (Film Review)

3 min read

It's common knowledge that the American and healthcare systems aren't exactly great, making prescribed treatments absurdly expensive. When you're in need of a prescription that is only viable within a tight timeframe, but you don't have the money for it, it can obviously lead to catastrophic results all because of your financial situation. A topic that is close to the heart of director M. H. Murray, his feature-length debut is a tense drama thrusting a character in that very situation.

Benjamin (Mark Clennon), a gay musician living in Toronto barely making ends meet, is sexually assaulted during his walk home from a party. As well as trying to process being a victim of rape, Benjamin has to get himself PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis), a HIV-preventive treatment that only works when taken between 24 and 72 hours after “exposure”. The only issue is, the prescription costs just under $1000, money that Benjamin doesn't have. 

I Don't Know Who You Are very clearly condemns the Canadian healthcare system and the frustrating cracks in their insurance policies. Benjamin isn't just a victim to sexual assault but also of his country. He's just like us; an individual working to make a living, dealing with relationships good and bad, but he's kicked in the teeth even whilst he's down. So begins his quest across the city to scramble together the cash to get the PEP he sorely needs.

And what a tense and anxiety-riddled journey it is. It's not so much the ticking clock of getting the prescription, but the attempts to get the cash that ramps up the stress levels. Whether it's erratic handheld close-ups or a beautifully composed wide-shot that makes Benjamin look small, M. H. Murray understands how painful it can be to ask close ones for financial support when times are desperate. Whilst this modern odyssey is often chaotic, time is made for us to process the awful events alongside Benjamin in devastatingly quiet moments. 

Which leads to Clennon's terrific performance. You can feel the stress bubbling away underneath through simple glances and movements — he often chews on his nails. And even when he leans into his crutch of drinking when a situation is overbearing but he really shouldn't, it's a very human response and we can empathise with Benjamin. In a short amount of time he's presented as a likeable character; creative, funny, kind and charming. Clennon's early work in the film only makes the events that follow even more harrowing.

There are a couple of elements that threaten to derail the experience, however. A few lines of clunky dialogue only stand out because the rest of the film feels so naturalistic. And there's a scene towards the end that might draw unwanted laughs from the audience as it looks and sounds like a damn H&M advert. This may seem nit-picky but they spoil what is otherwise a fantastic feature debut.

In the end, I Don't Know Who You Are is ultimately an uplifting story of connection and demystifying harmful stereotypes. It's Benjamin's friendships that get him through his ordeal, and a queer relationship that lets him heal in the end. When the world and our governments let us down, it's our friends and family that pick us up again.  

I Don't Know Who You Are will be screened throughout the BFI Flare festival.