Film

Sydney Film Festival Review: ‘That’s Not Me’

This review is part of a wrap from Sydney Film Festival 2017. Read more here.

That’s Not Me uses a simple premise — identical twin actors — but knowingly avoids the pitfalls of Olsen twin superficialities. Following the tale of would-be actor Polly through the lens of Aussie urban ennui, the film delivers an emotionally resonant and comedic quarter life crisis for lead actor, and co-writer, Alice Foulcher. It really is Foulcher’s show.

Though the dual performances one might expect from a twin flick are kept to a minimum, the impressive turn sees Foulcher in every scene, teetering along a role that drifts from satirical to sympathetic and back again. Just when you’re sick of Polly’s lacklustre efforts and self-sabotaging actions, up pops an even more irksome slacker or fame-grub, and you’re back on her side. It’s a simple set-up delivered endlessly in comedy, but managed so well in That’s Not Me that you remember how rare it is that balance is achieved in Australian films.

While it starts a little slow, what emerges is something smarter and more wittily observed than you might expect. Polly’s “gosh why me” sulk widens into an “are you kidding me” eye roll, as she sees her own disappointments in the context of other’s obliviousness, and seemingly one-note characters challenge her own presumptions (Richard Davies and Isabel Lucas are standouts, lightly caricaturing their own local and international achievements).

Some jokes (agents with e-cigarettes, blundering dads ordering foreign foods) feel a little light, like sitcom gags stretched too thin on the big screen. But others are tightly observed, with sly digs at the entertainment industry both home and abroad landing with accuracy. The subtle shifts of perspective, from Polly’s subjective take on proceedings to our own objective understanding is subtly utilised, letting us feel for a stuff up even as we laugh a little at her stumbles.

Yes, this is a simple film about growing up and readjusting your goals, but it’s smart and doesn’t pander. It’s good to see a Aussie comedy that can laugh at, understand, and defend its place in the world.

That’s Not Me is in select cinemas from September 7.

Matt Roden hosts the Perfect Pitch podcast, where he and his writer/comedian friends catalogue 100 new ideas for movies so Matt doesn’t get sued by Hollywood.