How the other half lives

Screenshot of 'The Other Half'
Screenshot of ‘The Other Half’

‘The Other Half’ film review

By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist

Rating: 5/5

A lot of Canadian films were shown at the Vancouver International Film Festival this year as part of the Canadian Images series and the BC Spotlight series. One of these films, The Other Half, examines how mental illness affects people, and how it is treated.

The film follows Nicky (Tom Cullen) who is depressed because he lost his son in an accident. Nicky meets a woman named Emily (Tatiana Maslany) who has bipolar disorder. Along with Emily’s parents, they go on a journey to help her with her illness.

Before viewing the film, audiences may notice that the plot is similar to Silver Linings Playbook, because Nicky and Emily have similar issues to Patrick and Tiffany, the main characters of that film. The Other Half is different because it is presented as more of a drama than a comedy.

This is Joey Klein’s first film as a director, having worked as an actor in many short films before working on The Other Half.

Throughout the film, he inserts jump cuts in all of the conversations, giving them a choppy, sped up feel. For example, the scene in which Emily goes through an episode of her illness with loud music in the background is enhanced by the jump cuts.

Tom Cullen and Tatiana Maslany have been dating off-screen for four years now, which is also similar to Bradley Cooper’s work with Jennifer Lawrence on Silver Linings Playbook. How close the two actors are in real life adds to how they portray the people that they play in the film, especially in the scene where they perform an improvised song.

The score of the film accentuates the characters’ emotions very well; it features an electronic sound that underscores the grief that Nicky feels because of his son’s accident, and his sympathy for Emily’s situation. During the dance scenes, strobe lights are used with the loud music to add tension to the film.

While writing the film, Joey Klein drew upon his own experiences and did a lot of research into mental illness. “It was a slow burn,” said Maslany at a Q&A at the film festival. To prepare for the film, she also researched mental illness by interviewing a lot of people that have bipolar disorder to learn about their experiences with the illness. The film focuses on both Nicky’s depression and Emily’s bipolar disorder by showing how Nicky recovers from his illness and the effects of Emily’s illness and how it is treated. The condition’s mental effects are portrayed especially well in the scene with the loud music. It also shows how Emily’s illness affects her parents and how they respond to her episodes.

While mental illness is an important issue today, the film shows how it impacts people and how you can take action to help them. The Other Half opens in theatres soon.