Written and directed by Saman Hosseinpuor and Ako Zandkarimi, after his wife passes away, a religious man begins to suspect his wife had an affair with another man. Starring: Mohammad Kermanshahi, Shenia Mozafarian and Majid Potki.
For a long time, grief and loss have always been represented in very similar ways onscreen but slowly the tide is turning to reflect that it can come in any form and is dealt with by each person differently. The Other is an example of that and by choosing to include no dialogue whatsoever in the film, it creates an even more intense focus on the experience of ‘The Man’ (Potki) and ‘The Little Girl’ (Mozafarian). The writing does incorporate the inklings of his late wife’s infidelity but it doesn’t become a drama of jealousy, it shapes the way that he grieves and you follow as he adjusts and does what he needs to, to move forward. Understandably, it’s extremely difficult to portray the grief of a child when their understanding of the situation is generally extremely complicated and unclear so trying to shift more to the daughter’s perspective would have been quite a task, but they do provide enough to give her a genuine part to play in this story.
One of the interesting things about the direction and cinematography (by Hamed Baqaeiyan) of The Other is that the visual is often at perfect odds with the story, the former exposing natural beauty and the latter being sincerely dark. Although, the direction certainly embraces that darkness, it has an intensity to it which reflects the story well and holds an affecting presence. Allowing the film to sit and stew in its silence is hugely strengthened by its visual quality, the story does work by itself but it wouldn’t be as effective without its strong direction which emphasises its emotions. You could almost compare it to something like Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, similarly bringing through a permeating sadness that doesn’t require words. It also brings through the spirituality and a slightly ominous air to this story which is yet another element that pulls you in.
Majid Potki’s performance is absolutely wonderful; he’s vulnerable, heart-breaking, sympathetic and sincere. He embodies everything that you need to tell this story without saying a word, for the most part it’s even a fairly understated performance but he doesn’t miss a beat getting across the feelings of this tale. Shenia Mozafarian is great as his daughter, it’s undoubtedly a challenge to give a child a role where they are not allowed to speak but she handles it well. You can easily see the subtleties to her emotions and how children often continue in very much the same behaviour but with infrequent changes that expose their confusion and sadness with this life-changing event.
The Other is a boldly confident exploration of loss and grief that requires no words to portray the complexity of its emotions. It cleverly contrasts the darkness of its story with a light, natural quality to its sharp visual. Potki gives a moving and intense performance that you can’t look away from. Everything simply comes together in an impressive manner.