Another Man

Another Man

***

Reviewed by: James Benefield

Another Man begins as a film about a film reviewer, Francois (Robin Harsch), who can’t write film reviews. Although he took some writing classes at university, he’s no journalist and gets his job at the local paper by personality alone. To counter his inability to write down an opinion, he begins shamelessly plagiarising the work of another reviewer from a high-end arts magazine, and, to add illegality to immorality, he emails it to the paper using his neighbour’s wifi.

Soon, the paper balks at his highly critical, inaccessible reviews and Francois finds himself out of a job. However, buoyed by the reaction he has received, he starts attending press screenings, using crumpled copies of the local paper to get a seat. While there, he encounters fellow critic Rosa (Natacha Koutchoumov), something of a sex kitten, who soon rumbles him. However, despite this, and despite having a live-in girlfriend (played by Elodie Weber, who he has just moved with), he decides to pursue the woman’s interest in him.

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Most of this happens in the first half; it’s a snappy, short and fast-moving movie that is heavy on event and dialogue. Sometimes you just want it to slow down to take a moment’s reflection on some of the weighty themes it introduces. Consequently, the film’s focus is unclear for most of its length. On one hand, there are the themes of infidelity caused by an apparently unhappy relationship (a thread that gets pretty nasty in the second half and, adversely, spawns a series of unusual sex scenes; one ends up with an upturned container of takeaway rice). Elsewhere, there is some philosophising about the role of the critic and to what extent people have anything to say about anything.

Between all this, there is ample time for some rather self-conscious camera angles, plus some truly heavy-handed visual metaphors and symbolism (a repeated one is a dead fox, decomposing in the snow). Its AQ (arthouse quotient) is heightened by the film’s black and white photography. However, it’s a drained black and white - a murky, washed out use of chiaroscuro. It’s completely in line with the film’s onslaught of dubious morality.

However, in the end, it seems, this is a film about flouting morals, it is a film about serving yourself, it’s about a libertine. Indeed, the film ends with a scene in a café, with two characters flagrantly flouting the smoking ban.

Another Man is an eventful, absorbing film which is full of narrative surprises. It also trots, sometimes quite outrageously, along the thin line between the pretentious and the profound and never really falls into either camp. That said, if you like to see twenty and thirtysomethings prance around in their pants (and less) it’s one to watch.

Reviewed on: 20 Nov 2009
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Psychological drama about a young, inexperienced film reviewer who falls for the charms of a well-established female colleague.
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Festivals:

French 2009

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