One of the most unexpected delights of Australian cinema in 2017 was Gregory Erdstein and Alice Foulcher’s low-budget comedy That’s Not Me, winning audience favourite awards at both Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals this year and garnering strong, vocal support from film critics around the country. The debut feature by husband-and-wife team Erdstein and Foulcher – who met while students at Melbourne’s esteemed Victorian College of the Arts – wrote the screenplay together, with Erdstein taking on directorial duties while Foulcher played not one but both of the starring roles. Continue reading…
As twin sisters Polly and Amy, while the foundations of the film’s success are doubtlessly its quality writing, with a lesser actor than Foulcher in the dual roles the film arguably would not have quite succeeded. Polly works at the ticket booth of Melbourne’s beloved Astor cinema, numbed and somewhat downtrodden by the fact that despite her grand ambitions to become a famous actor, her sister Amy has somehow become the one to attain worldwide fame in the job. A series of increasingly soul-destroying encounters find Polly biting the bullet and heading to Los Angeles to see if she can make it herself, crashing with an old friend (Australian actor and model Isabel Lucas from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in a delightful cameo). As perhaps to be expected, things for Polly don’t turn out quite as she had hoped.
While hardly radical narrative terrain, it is where Foulcher and Erdstein take Polly and Amy’s stories that renders That’s Not Me a refreshing, kind and intelligent take on identity, ambition and fame. Made on a near-incomprehensibly low budget of $60,000AUD (approximately $45,000US), every cent was spent wisely and while clearly not a blockbuster, I was gobsmacked at how far they stretched so little as nothing of the film suggests such a tight financial framework. Studio executives looking for money-savvy original filmmakers with an intuitive sense of fun who make work that appeals to a broad audience need look no further than Erdstein and Foulcher.
But the film has a lovely sense of its own scale in other ways. Something of Polly’s experiences – many of them laugh-out-loud funny, others cringefully embarrassing – speak to the nuances of our more quotidian ups-and-downs, with nothing of the glittery roar and bluster that the film’s plot might otherwise suggest. That’s Not Me strikes a perfect balance between silly and smart, accessible and fantastic, and local and global that make it in many ways one of the most promising and original Australian films in years.