Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jim Sturgess, Andreja Pejic, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Rhona Mitra, Orla Brady, Jordi Mollà, Michael Socha, Billy Barratt, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Mike Gassaway, Mark W. Travis, Likuna Khachapuridze
Written by: Giga Agladze
Directed by: Giga Agladze
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 99
Date: 02/04/2022

The Other Me (2022)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Sight of Hand

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Perhaps if it had been more surreal, more dreamlike, this odd romantic drama might have worked, but as it is, it's a dull mishmash of things happening — and not happening — that never really connects.

Irakli (Jim Sturgess) is an out-of-work architect and bartender, unhappily married to Nutsa (Antonia Campbell-Hughes). One day, he falls asleep on the bus and wakes up at the end of the line, near the woods, and meets Nino (Andreja Pejic) there. He's instantly smitten and he arranges to meet her again at his bar. We discover through flashbacks that Nino is a trans-woman, estranged from her abusive father.

Later, a doctor informs Irakli that he is losing his vision and will soon go completely blind. He wallows in self-pity until the morning his sight is gone. But, astonishingly, he finds he has a different kind of sight. Some people appear as animals, and some have no faces at all. He can see meadows inside rooms, and paintings at a museum come alive. But he still must face the fact that he's in love with Nino.

Boasting an executive producer credit for David Lynch, The Other Me feels like it's reaching for a Lynchian tone, but somehow stopped halfway. (One wonders what the great director might have been thinking while watching this?) It's too realistic for the otherworldly stuff to work (even a black-and-white dream sequence is too literal), and it's too inconsistent in its rules to comply with reality. In other words, sometimes Irakli can see the world around him, animals, shapes, etc., and sometimes he can see nothing at all (he stumbles when trying to find a chair to sit down). And yet, he says, "I see everyone... everything."

The movie gets points for casting lovely trans woman Andreja Pejic, and acknowledging the character's troubles coming out to her father, but that subplot has nothing to do with the main character's vision. It seems tacked-on. Indeed, the characters, including Rhona Mitra as Nutsa's boss and Michael Socha as Irakli's best friend, are all cheating on each other or being cheated on, and none of it really means anything. It's all passionless.

Sturgess seems to be trying to inject some life-blood into it with his manic performance, over-emoting so intensely that he's left gasping for breath after every line reading. (Matching him is the actor playing his doctor, with a bedside manner like a scorpion's.) If only The Other Me had been able to cut loose and get really weird, it might have been worth seeing.

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