Charlotte Dauphin’s directorial debut, The Other (L’autre), is above all, frustratingly indecisive. On one hand, the Parisian filmmaker creates a haunting and strikingly shot portrayal of a woman’s battle with grief. On the other, a bland character study, void of any substance, relying on a severely weak script.
Marie (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) is a former professional dancer, having recently quit after the sudden death of her father. Beginning to process her loss and adjust to her crippling isolation, she develops a relationship with Paul (James Thierrée). He’s an enigmatic photographer who was the last person to see her father alive.
The film then begins to ebb and flow through time and memory. Some moments with grace and conviction, while others with tedious irritation. The cinematography and set design carry sleekness and competency that is significantly lacking in other areas of the film. Shots are clean and elegant. The lighting, and its ever more pressing shadows, corrupt the audience’s vision as we peer deeper into Marie’s fragile state of mind.
However, the script is dire. Scenes will start with no momentum and end with little to no progression or intrigue in the plot. Not to mention an ineffectual motif concerning ‘mirrors’. The editing enhances this awkwardness: the film constantly jumps from slow, often eerie compositions, to a multitude of quick cuts and pointless scene changes.
Moreover, while the performances are decent enough, the banal dialogue restricts any sense of authentic emotion emerging from the actors.
Dauphin deploys a handful of interesting, surrealist techniques throughout the film, yet, unfortunately, there is an air of pretentiousness The Other never seems to shake off.
The Other premiered at Manchester International Film Festival on the 13th of March.