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Another Me
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by Jay Seaver

"Not scary, and that's not enough."
2 stars

"Another Me" didn't look like much - a young-adult thriller that likely would have gone straight to video-on-demand but for a slow release week and the fact that the other line on star Sophie Turner's filmography is "Game of Thrones" - but Isabel Coixet as the person to adapt it to the screen is a strange enough choice to be interesting. Unfortunately, as much as the gamble of putting an art-house filmmaker in charge of a mainstream horror movie could pay off well, it can also turn out as dull and muddled as this one.

A year ago, Fay Delussey (Turner) had a seemingly perfect life, at least until the day that her father Don (Rhys Ifans) is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Now, he's slowly wasting away, her mother Ann (Claire Forlani) is probably having an affair, and a girl at school (Charlotte Vega) is saying she only got the lead part in the school play because their drama teacher (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) feels sorry for her. Her photography is taking a decided turn for the macabre, but that may be fitting - Fay gets the feeling that someone is following her, and people are claiming to have seen her when she knows she was elsewhere.

I must admit, I feel a little foolish for not making the full connection about what's going on until after the movie - adapting a novel by Cathy MacPhail, Coixet has pieced together a few very familiar ghost-story bits into a story that hits upon some of the same themes as her My Life Without Me and The Secret Life of Words. The trouble with that is that it's Don's story, not Fay's, and being in a wheelchair means that he can't be a terribly active participant (although there's probably a pretty creepy horror movie to be made where the focus stays on Don).

Putting the focus on Fay could work out, but Fay's life is kind of boring. Her two friends are complete blanks, so it means nothing when they start aligning with with Monica as Fay becomes more erratic (at least Charlotte Vega handles making Monica memorably bitchy). Gregg Shelton is just a blandly good-looking kid as Fay's co-star and eventual boyfriend. There are jokes to be made about how filmmakers would naturally think that giving Fay hobbies like photography and theater would automatically make her interesting, but the truth is, they kind of work against her, putting her in a position where eerie things can happen to her but never giving her a chance to respond to them in any meaningful way. She doesn't even get a chance to look good compared to her double, whom we never see in any meaningful way.

That the characters are kind of dull doesn't mean they're poorly acted; in fact, I wouldn't mind seeing a movie that just focused on the Delussey family without any supernatural elements. Fay may not be unique, but Turner makes her genuine, while Rhys Ifans is predictably steady as Don. Claire Forlani does an impressive job of keeping a character that the audience could reflexively dislike fairly sympathetic. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Charlotte Vega, Geraldine Chaplin, Leonor Watling, and Gregg Shelton are all quite capable parts of the ensemble.

Coixet is talented enough to create some impressive moments, such as when Fay's walk home goes from kind of dark to downright scary, or when shadows and reflections do something nifty. She makes some odd and frustrating choices, some perhaps inherited from the novel, whether it be opening with narration that gives the game away early to the sort of horror movie ending that I hate the most for its complete emptiness. She takes much too long to establish either the emotional or mythological underpinnings for the supernatural elements without even much in the way of jumps to fill in up until that point.

Every once in a while, you can look at a horror movie and say it would be pretty good even without the scary stuff, and that's a compliment, a sign that the filmmakers have put in the effort to make a better film than someone just looking to get scared might expect. Here, it seems like a sign that everybody involved is making the wrong sort of picture.

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originally posted: 08/25/14 06:18:25
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User Comments

11/15/15 brian Too much of Ms. Turner, who pretty much wears same expression she does throughout GoT. 3 stars
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  22-Aug-2014 (PG-13)



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