THE OTHER SIDE is a diving documentary in the mid – “white trash” in the USA : child neglect, caravans rotten, veterans, toothless, and drunken, crack, stripper pregnant, etc, That is what put the decorations. And ? That is all. The film is being promoted as a documentary, but done everything possible to look like a work of fiction. In other occasions we would have celebrated the absence of voice-overs or interviews for the benefit of a camera of pure observation. This current documentary called “cinema vérité” or “direct cinema” has given real jewelry, as The beast lumineuse (Pierre Perrault, 1982). But for this film, the device creates a profound malaise, as everything is done to give us the impression that we are looking at actors playing. THE OTHER SIDE succeeds, therefore, to make us believe that these “real people”, played “fake” their own role… A shame !
The unpleasant feeling of seeing a lie is reinforced by the total absence of restraint, everything is filmed frontally : a shot of drug to a pregnant woman, a couple making love, a stripper revealing her sex, etc., As nothing is reflected in the relationship of empathy between the director behind the camera and those in front, it is tempting to imagine that these scenes were purchased for the poor people who will balk at nothing to get a ticket. If this is not the case, and that the director has, instead, spent the time to gain the trust of these people, so that the film does not translate at all to this approach, and it is all the more missed.
The succession of images to be disturbing does not seem to go anywhere, no character is explored thoroughly, and it jumps from one topic to another without logic. The film follows Mark, an ex-taulard camé, who lives only for drugs and alcohol, and then to two-thirds of the film, you abandon it abruptly to follow a group of para-military training to survive in the event of martial Law imposed by the federal government. And don’t think to the extent that it is a portrait of Mark. If it’s the one that we see most on the screen, what we will learn about Mark boils down to the “red-neck” in the Simpsons. Most of his past life and its goals is shipped in a dialogue with his girlfriend, a scene that seems like the totally “fake.”
If the developer has surely thought about his film – his interviews show a posture of intellectual – his reasoning does not appear absolutely not. Roberto Minervini believed that the only succession of scenes of the daily life of these people was enough to make a movie. It is not the case. Unlike The beast of light cited above, THE OTHER SIDE has no engine drama. Everything is flat and repetitive. Not to mention “history”, Thebeast of light followed a band of hunters, and filming without restraint binge drinking, which they did. The interest of the film was not, however, in this description, but in the shock of the encounter between the hunters and trained two intellectuals who thought of hunting as a form of poetry. With their bows and their arrows, their celebration of a mythical beast and their dreams of children, they were faced with the harsh reality of the hunters. In the quebecois film of 1982, the clash of these two worlds has created an evolution in the characters.
“Voyeuristic, foutraque and boring, the only merit of THE OTHER SIDE is to invent a genre, what we might call “misery-porn”.”
THE OTHER SIDE is completely devoid of such a mechanism. Roberto Minervini is merely a description of awkward of a micro-society that he would like to hold the more distant from him. Literally “the other side”, the title of the movie marks the border between “them” (the wild, the characters on the screen) and “us” (the civilized, the spectators). This look condescending does not understand on what soil this misery has been able to grow and develop. We don’t even talk about a solution or a hope to bring to these people, or even to be interested in what would be their fantasy of a better world. If a political discourse could emerge from the film Roberto Minervini, this would be mere propaganda anti-american.
Voyeuristic, foutraque and boring, the only merit of THE OTHER SIDE is to invent a genre, what we might call “misery-porn”. The director revels not only in the enumeration of all the stereotypes associated with the disadvantaged population, he enjoys it.
Any interest in a documentary filming of the front of the dirty people make love, if it is not to make fun of their fat, their teeth rot, and from the mire in which they wallow ? How can I not believe that these scenes are not man-made ? Who is going to think that the director and all his assistants for help with the focus or sound, spent just a little time with the characters, when all of a sudden Mark decides that it is time to take a shot in front of the camera ? And how can it enlighten us on who they really are ? Pathetically, the director shows us the anatomy to artificially create the intimate.
To summarize, each interaction has the unpleasant smell of a documentary directed. No meaning can be removed from the film in its entirety, as one could expect from any fiction, or even a documentary. If you give 1 hour 30 minutes of your time to be sitting in a dirty obscure, it is still to be, in part, transformed by the experience. Apart from the disgust, THE OTHER SIDE does nothing.
Pushing the film to its limits, one realizes that it is a form of anti-cinema : the negation of a dramatic movement (if only in the evolution of the discourse), the characters are uni-dimensional, and a total lack of moral reflection. THE OTHER SIDE is not a movie meta-analytic which would reflect the viewer on the nature of the cinema. The negation at work in THE OTHER SIDE is very far from the fable of the zen sage, asking what noise the right hand is doing, which applauds, without the help of the left.
THE OTHER SIDE is animated by a negativity without purpose, the nihilism in the pure state.
THE OTHER OUTPUTS OF THE 25/11/15
• Realization : Roberto Minervini
• Screenplay :Roberto Minervini
• Main actors : Mark Kelly, Lisa Allen, James Lee Miller
• Country of origin : France, Italy
• Released : November 25, 2015
• Duration :1h32mn
• Distributor :Shellac
• Synopsis :The life of a community on the margins in the USA.