The Other Half
Directed by Joey Klein
A grief-stricken man and a bipolar woman fall in love and attempt to forge a simple life together.
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★★★½ review by Keith Garrett on Letterboxd
If there is justice in this world, Tatiana Maslany will win an Oscar one day.
★★★★ review by ciaran on Letterboxd
if silver linings playbook was good.
★★★½ review by Scott AA Wilson on Letterboxd
Tatiana Maslany is so Project Leda in my head that this could be revealed to be an Orphan Black spin-off and I'd be cool with it. It's not like her Emily is a million miles away from Helena.
Nickie (Tom Cullen, Maslany's real life partner, leading to some A+ chemistry) is suffering the grief of losing his younger brother. He punches people often. Emily defends him in a cafe when a former punchee tries to start something, and her playful and unreserved nature is forced into Nickie's world.
Neither are up front about their baggage at first. Nickie is stoic, and obviously violent, but where it comes from he's hesitant to share. Emily goes from adorable to a real handful, before revealing her bipolar disorder.
I don't think the film believes either Nickie or Emily can fix the other. Nickie is genuinely attracted to her, but he's also protective beyond expectation, not wanting to lose someone else. Emily is soothed by his calm realism. He affects her moods, even if what she feels in her head can be conveyed on the surface through out of control behaviour. They are comforted by the other, and co-dependent.
Which isn't to say that's an ideal message for a romance film. There's a tension underlying everything - what if one of them was to walk away? Neither seems to have the ability to cope with such a thing.
But, that's life. We reject the Hollywood idea of romance, and denounce problematic portrayals, leaving us with a vague middle ground of indie and arthouse productions that come somewhere close to the truth. Our discomfort with the problematic may be down to its familiarity, too.
This ain't nothing to aspire to, but goddamn you still root for them.
★★★½ review by Mike Ward on Letterboxd
Great performances, incredible cinematography and a haunting score all come together to make a rare film about mental illnesses without resorting to tropes or trying to make it quirky. I will say it's a film that takes a lot out of you, leaving you exhausted by the end but it's well worth it. Congrats to Joey Klein for making a great debut film and a Canadian film that doesn't feel like a Canadian film.
★★★★ review by Glen Grunau on Letterboxd
Two broken people merge into a relationship of extreme emotional intensity. My suspense was very tangible as I became a passenger on their emotional roller coaster, constantly wondering if their relationship could survive the mood misalignments between these two suffering souls. Wondering how I could ever endure a relationship with a partner with rapid cycling bipolar disorder - a role which Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany pulls off most convincingly.
Yet in the midst of their relational agony there was an endearing and innocent childlike joy that offered hope. But would it be enough to save each other and the relationship?
I was very much caught up in this one. A Canadian movie deserving of applause.
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