It started with a question, states Boris Gerrets in one of many ‘title cards’ that read like text messages throughout his lo-fi ‘mobile phone camera’ film, People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am. What would it be like to enter into the life of a complete stranger? We’ve all done it before, drifted through the hustle and bustle of a congested city and daydreamed our way into another’s life. The difference is Gerrets is not daydreaming, he actually barged his way, though gracefully, into the lives of his two characters: Sandrine, a Brazilian beauty who left her son back home to find a ‘provider’ in one of her many lovers, and Steve, a kind-hearted drug addict and cripple who spends most of his time begging on unappealing sidewalks. Both are lost souls the director encountered in the crevices of London. As another title card reads: “There is one life we imagine living and another one we really live.” Musings such as these, ordered among other questions and points of narrative stitch the film together, between colliding images of the city in transient places – through train windows, from the meditative pulse of the Underground, in taxis, cafés, parks and hotel rooms – like glimpses of a daydream. But who is really dreaming? Director, subject, or us? Or are we one and the same?
The inter-play between imagination and reality, between fact and fiction, sustains the dynamic of Gerrets’ film. Another title cards reads, “Sometimes imagination and reality collide, but very, very rarely.” There is no precursor to how he met his characters, or why these two
individuals are the chosen focus, and why he has gained their trust. Their lives are not tailored to meet any obvious narrative constraints Gerrets has put in place, nor are their lives incredibly ‘special’ – they are anybody and everybody – people Boris Gerrets, or any of us, could be.
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