RIDM 2015 Review: The Other Side

Mark and Lisa in the documentary film The Other Side.
Mark and Lisa in the documentary film The Other Side.

Do you ever watch a film and find yourself wondering “WHAT were they thinking?” Or, “What WERE they thinking?” “They” could be the film studio, the writer, the director, the actors, or, in the case of a documentary, the participants.

I had that thought often while watching The Other Side, a documentary filmed in rural Louisiana by Italian filmmaker Roberto Minervini. The film is divided into two parts of unequal length. The first, and longest part, is about Mark and Lisa, down-on-their luck lovers and drug addicts who aren’t shy about getting naked. In fact, they spend most of their at-home time that way. There’s also a scene where Mark wakes up at the side of the road, starkers, and ambles home, his bare feet making a flappin noise on the highway.

They use drugs frequently while on camera, and Mark is seen injecting Lisa and others with them. Could that drug-use footage be used as evidence, if they are arrested? Or do the authorities alreasdy have plenty on him already? He has spent time in jail.

In another scene, Mark and a (male) friend break into a school and make fun of a wall chart that explains economics and capitalism. (I’m not suggesting that those things are above mockery, far from it!) While they’re having their laughs, they describe themselves as pimps, which I found disturbing. If they really are pimps, it was not demonstrated explicitly. Mark injects a pregnant, nude dancer before she does her act. Does he gets part of her earnings?

Whatever you might think of drug dealing, it seems that “good, honest work” is not readily available in Mark’s neck of the woods.

The other part of the film deals with some heavily-armed guys who are expecting bad things, and pretty soon, too. An insurrection, a revolution, the big bad government coming to take their weapons, something like that. While their world-view seems more than a little twisted, they seem dead serious. These guys are scary. I’m glad they are far away, thugh heaven knows, maybe there are others who think the same way, closer to home than I realize.

People throughout the film badmouth U.S. president Barack Obama with racist language, which I found uncomfortable to listen to. The support one guy expressed for Hillary Clinton was surprising, because I had assumed that racists would be sexists, too. Apparently not always.

Quite apart from the too-much-information aspect and the racism, The Other Side won’t be for everyone. It would be depressing as fiction, as reality it’s much worse.
The Other Side (click for more info)
directed by Roberto Minervini
Country : France, Italy
Year : 2015
Language : English
Subtitles : French
Runtime : 92 Min
Production : Muriel Meynard, Paolo Benzi, Dario Zonta
Cinematography : Diego Romero Suarez-Llanos
Editing : Marie-Hélène Dozo
Sound : Chico Bernat Fortiana, Ingrid Simon, Thomas Gauder
Maxwell Wolkin
Film Movement

Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, 9:30 p.m.
Cinéma Excentris – Cassavetes, 3536 St. Laurent Blvd.

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