'THE OTHER SIDE'
- Directed by Michael Degani -
Michael Degani’s ‘The Other Side’ is an interesting production with a perpetual unpredictability about its plot and key elements. Centre-stage is Azadeh, a psychic/clairvoyant who hears weird, often totally crazy stories about other people’s lives on a daily basis, but fails to replicate even the slightest grain of excitement within her own personal existence. Things take a twist outside the usual routine while, during a session, a former client walks in with a gun pointed at her.
What this comedy subtly pokes fun at is the impossibility to predict what can happen to one’s life at a later point, with the equation of variables which lead to one thing happening or nor happening simply too random to draw in advance. There is a lot of self-irony to be found within this idea, as Azadeh’s clairvoyant job – seemingly not even dignified as a job by her mum – begins with a quote stating that ‘nobody knows what life has in store for us.’
The frequent stories she has to overhear and offer advice on, the dating adventured recounted by her slutty best friend, and, ultimately, the encounter with an ex-client upset that he did not die as predicted give her a different outlook on life, and makes her realize that infinite possibilities exist and wait to be taken. Ironically enough, she thus discovers a side of life that she should have known all along, since her name, Azadeh, of Persian origin, translates into ‘free’.
‘The Other Side’s’ biggest problem is that it does not tie up all its ends into a coherent message. Its circular narrative does not add much value, while the variety of themes and elements explored are given little finality. A far more interesting an original twist could have been given to the premises three quarters of the way through, just after the old client encounter. However, from here on the irony spills into mundane, and the overall message doesn’t gel.
Otherwise, in terms of presentation, everything pretty much shines. Michael Degani’s great cinematography blends well with a thoroughly professional job from the actors, especially Salome Azizi and Chelsea Taylor. The exclusion of any kind of score is a decision that really pays off, as it first emphasizes the mundane and repetitive character of the large majority of Azadeh’s session, only to later transmit a sense of tension and lack of control. All in all, ‘The Other Side’ is a very good project, with a few flaws on its content side, but a wonderful technical and artistic execution.