‘The Other Tom’ Review: Being a Mother Is Not an Easy Job

Being a mother is not an easy task, especially when there is no one else around to help. Millions of mothers around the world work and raise their children by themselves without the help of others, and the job of being a mother is already hard enough without so many other things piling up. The Other Tom is a new film that talks about and explores these issues. It also talks about what the institutions are doing to help and how a medical condition such as ADHD can make things just too difficult for one person.

The Other Tom is a movie directed by Rodrigo Plá and Laura Santullo and stars Julia Chavez and Israel Rodriguez Bertorelli. The film tells the story of Elena, a young single mother raising her son, Tom. The boy is just like any other, but he gets diagnosticated with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and his behavior becomes too much trouble for both Elena and the school. Tom gets into treatment, but he becomes another Tom, one that looks more like a zombie than the joyful boy Elena loves. When she decides to stop his medication, more unexpected problems seem to follow her.

A film like The Other Tom is very important. Right now, most commercial cinema is focused on creating the next big franchise. Superheroes, actioners, and legacy sequels seem to be the only things people want to see in theaters. So, it feels like a triumph wherever movies like The Other Tom are made and released. These are films that are not particularly fun or entertaining. However, they are essential because, for a moment, they let you live in the shoes of another person, one that you will never meet but one that you will understand by the end of the movie.

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The Other Tom focuses on the subject of being a single mother raising a son with ADHD. The condition doesn’t make the individual become someone that cannot function in society; far from it, but it does make things difficult not only for the person with the condition but also for those around them. It is difficult living with someone like that, as you might feel that they need your contact attention, or they might do something that can affect them or you. It is quite stressful, so when Elena feels that, you feel it too.

Plá and Santullo have chosen a very realistic look for the film. This is not only because the movie is a low-budget effort, but because the reality of every situation can only enhance them and make them more believable for the audience. Odei Zabaleta does an amazing job in the cinematography department, and visually it is one of the strongest elements of the film. Both day and night shots look incredible, and the distance from which some scenes are shot works greatly in putting the audience right there with the characters, but never too close as to make them uncomfortable.

The themes and their development, alongside the visual style of the film, are all great, but the acting might feel a bit lacking at points. Plá and Santullo seem to try out the Sean Baker acting school that has made that filmmaker’s films so raw and real. Baker uses tons of non-actors to populate the background characters of his films, and sometimes he even chooses to take one of these non-actors and put them right in the starring role. For Baker, this method works more often than not, but in The Other Tom, the method feels off.

Chavez and Bertorelli are first-time actors. They are not bad, but you can feel that they are not experienced in what they are doing. There is a stiffness that basically permeates every single line of dialogue in the film. For all the realism that the visuals are trying to develop, the acting takes you out of that immersion and reminds you that you are watching a movie and that these people are actors. We are always reminded of that in every single film, but when that happens with an intensity that becomes a detriment to the story, then we have a problem.

Alongside the intense stiffness of the dialogue, there is also a lack of expression at some points from many of the actors. Acting is reacting, and sometimes it feels like there is not enough of it in the film. On top of that, the movie might be too long for what it is trying to tell, and it might prove to be a test of patience for some members of the audience.

The Other Tom is a great exploration of a subject that is often obscured by some others that are quite more exciting. Yes, this film is not one you’re going to want to see because you wanted to see something fun or wanted to kill some time. You need to be in the mood for this. Nevertheless, it is an important film that should be checked out if only to experience a reality that might be far from your own and that will open your mind to what other people are going through every day.

SCORE: 7/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.