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Movie Review: 'The Other Me' Sensitively Explores Sexual Identity

The Other Me is a lovely and sensitive exploration of sexual identity.

By Sean PatrickPublished 2 years ago 4 min read

The Other Me operates on dream logic. The film starring Jim Sturgess and Andreja Pejic as two halves of the same person may seem obtuse or bizarre but that is intentional. The Other Me is telling a story about discovering trans identity using a divided psyche and the fractured emotional plane of dreams to lay the groundwork for a story about a bartender going blind from an unnamed disorder who finds his sight again when he discovers his mirror self as a trans woman.

Irakli (Sturgess) may work as a bartender but he has a vision to change the future as an architect. Unfortunately his dreams are upended when he is told that he has a rare eye disorder that will render him blind sooner rather than later. This is not merely a setback for Irakli’s dreams, it’s a death blow for his already struggling marriage to Nutsa (Antonia Campbell Hughes). She’s already secretly sleeping with Irakli’s best friend and boss, Giorgi (Michael Socha). Irakli’s despondency over his blindness is only going to drive them further apart.

Indeed, immediately after getting his diagnosis, Irakli insults Nutsa and causes her to leave without him. Irakli then boards a bus where he falls asleep and rides to the end of the line, somewhere on the edge of a forest. In the forest he has a strange encounter with a man he mistakes for God and then he meets the woman with no name, played by Andreja Pejic. Irakli is immediately drawn to the woman and she to him though the connection is not immediately romantic. We will learn more about why as the story progresses.

While wrestling with guilt over cheating on her husband, Irakli also begins a strange sort of flirtation with her boss, Martha, played by Rhona Mitra. There is nothing overtly expressed but it is clear from the unexpectedly intimate conversations the two share that there is more to Nutsa’s relationship with her boss than the boss-subordinate relationship. The Other Me subtly expresses intimacy via space, production design and conversation.

I mentioned it at the beginning of the review and I will talk about it here again. I believe that The Other Me is intended as a metaphoric take on trans identity. Irakli is going blind but when he meets the woman with no name, he can see. The two seem to share the same childhood traumas and flashbacks to childhood marry a little boy neglected by his father to the Woman with no name visiting that same neglectful father but as a woman. The movie is very subtle and is open to other interpretations but I am confident that this is the intended reading of this work.

Irakli’s journey is one where as a man he’s going blind, he can no longer see the future and his life is descending into despair. When he meets the Woman with No Name he finds a comfort that doesn’t exist in the rest of his life. The movie is much more subtle and the dreamlike state of the dialogue and many scenes in The Other Me make the metaphor much more organic and thoughtful than my blunt force interpretation.

Jim Sturgess is lovely in the role of Irakli. Sturgess is incredibly emotional and expressive. His sadness is overwhelming. When he meets the woman with no name he is soothed and takes on an almost childlike quality as he finds comfort and security in her presence. It’s a beautiful performance that is perfectly matched by Pejic, a trans woman whose warmth and kindness radiates from her presence.

The fluidity and confusion over sexual identity permeates many scenes in The Other Me. The relationship I described between Nutsa and her boss may be disconnected from the main narrative but it’s also a reflection of the spectrum of sexual identity. Nutsa is married, she’s sleeping with Giorgi outside her marriage, but her future may lie with Nancy and that’s part of her journey in the movie, one of an uncertain future filled with figuring out who she truly is.

Writer-director Giga Agladze playfully uses the tools of filmmaking to explore ideas about identity, uncertainty, insecurity and self love. Soft lighting gives you just a hint of Irakli’s real nature as it softens Sturgess’s features in a way that subtly underlines his journey. The production design meanwhile has a dreamy quality, one that reflects a recognizable reality while leaving room for your mind to wander within the ideas being explored.

Another wonderful use of metaphor comes in a series of scenes at an art gallery. Here, Irakli and Giorgi have a couple of conversations about art and how to different people can look at a work of art and see something completely different. Some people see a painting and look no further, others find an entire universe of meaning in the images that go beyond the surface. Much like you look at someone and see a man or a woman, sexual identity goes well beyond the surface.

Even something as simple as Irakli's desire to become an architect has a deeper meaning. The duality of Irakli's work life as a bartender who wants to be an architect reflects two disparate worlds, not so much opposites, but completely different and requiring a significant change to go from one to the other. An architect is by nature someone who can design reality, choosing where everything goes and how it gets built. A bartender is subservient and at the whim of the demands of the world.

It's rather simple but if you lean into it, as I feel The Other Me does, there is a richness to be found in every detail of The Other Me. Everything means something regarding the central notion of identity and discovering who you really are. You can design your future confident in what you want or you can be subject to the whims others, aligning your actions to their expectations.

The Other Me was released in limited theatrical release on February 4th, 2022 and is available now on streaming rental everywhere.

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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    Sean PatrickWritten by Sean Patrick

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