MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 9: THAT’S NOT ME

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motw logo 1-35Alice Foulcher does triple duty in “That’s Not Me,” starring as both aspiring Australian actress Polly and her identical twin sister, Amy (also an actress), as well as co-writing with director Gregory Erdstein. The result is an appealing exploration of ambition, identity, and the whims of showbiz. The movie’s focus is mainly on Polly, who’s wanted to be an actress her whole life and dreams of getting her big break, even while she’s working a day job at a local cinema.

alice foulcher that's not me movie poster Polly thinks an audition for a new HBO show could finally be her big break, so she turns down a smaller soap opera gig … only to have Amy take the part on the soap instead. Amy’s performance is a hit, and all of a sudden, she’s a star, and Polly’s left eating her dust.

Suffice it to say that Polly doesn’t take being eclipsed by her sister well. She’s jealous, hurt, resentful, and — above all else — adrift. Because what will she do if her lifelong dream is no longer possible? Foulcher portrays Polly’s soul-deep struggles believably; her pettier reactions and decisions are completely understandable, if not admirable.

And the movie’s observations about the mercurial nature of Hollywood and the acting profession are funny in a way that prompts rueful, thoughtful laughter. Polly’s story echoes those of untold numbers of wishful wannabe thespians who’ve dreamed of stardom and then gone on to find fulfillment in lives and choices they never could have imagined while pursuing fame. Credit to Foulcher and Erdstein for making Polly’s journey one that, despite moments of darkness and despair, ultimately finds hope in new possibilities. — Betsy Bozdech

Team #MOTW’s comments:

Nikki Baughan: While it may have the feel of a bubbly comedy, and there are certainly plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, That’s Not Me mines the dramatic depths of sibling rivalry for both humour and poignancy. Alice Foulcher puts in an endearing central performance as Polly, whose dreams of acting stardom are crushed when her identical twin sister, Amy, becomes an internationally famous film actress. As she watches her sister from the sidelines, Polly attempts to come to terms with the hand that she’s been dealt in ways that are both sympathetic and ill-advised. Foulcher co-wrote the screenplay with debut director Gregory Erdstein, and their fresh, whip-smart story is both a well-aimed swipe at the modern obsession with fame and a charming reminder of the importance of being true to yourself.

Nell Minow: Alice Foulcher has a rueful charm in this bittersweet comedy about the special challenges of finding yourself when another version of you (also played by Foulcher) seems to have everything you think you want and deserve.

Marilyn Ferdinand: Sibling rivalry dominates Australian indie comedy That’s Not Me, but it is not the central point its coproducer, cowriter, and star Alice Foulcher has to make. Identical twin sisters Amy and Polly Cuthbert (Foulcher) share an ambition to succeed as actors, an agent who is trying to make their dreams come true, and not much more. Polly, the less successful twin who is the focus of the film, dreams of starring in prestige projects and refuses work she considers beneath her. When Amy’s less choosy approach catapults her to stardom, Polly is forced to desperate measures that strip her of what little she has going for her. As the song goes, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose,” and the result of Polly’s massive cock-ups forces her to take a long, hard look at her behavior and her choices. Foulcher is very funny and knows the indie life and its dysfunctional denizens from the inside. But she’s not just playing for laughs. When her agent, trying to salvage Polly’s career, mentions she might be able to sell her in a package deal with Amy, Polly says, “I don’t want to be half of something,” Her agent replies, “You’re not even that.” Indeed she isn’t. She’s much more, and Polly’s bittersweet reckoning with herself gives this film its soul.

Kristen Page-Kirby: Polly Cuthbert (Alice Foulcher, who also co-wrote) has someone else’s face: Her twin sister Amy’s (also Foulcher). Both women are actors, but Amy is a star on the rise while Polly is stuck on the ground. A prime example of cringe comedy (think “The Office”), That’s Not Me examines what it’s like to be stuck in a sibling’s ever-expanding shadow. There are the typical sister struggles (as anyone who’s ever been described as “the [adjective] one” will see), but the entertainment-scene setting adds another layer. For actresses, type often beats talent — “but I’m the good one!” Polly says more than once — so what happens when the roles you’re right for go to someone who, in the eyes of the industry, IS you? As Polly has her own brushes with the perks and pitfalls of celebrity (free stuff! Pictures you didn’t consent to!), she has to come to terms with whether she really wants the spotlight, or if Amy’s shadow is where she should stay.

MaryAnn Johanson Alice Foulcher takes a lot of big risks in her portrayal of Amy, a wannabe actor who finds herself getting lost in the shadow of her identical twin sister, also an actor and now hitting it big. Messed-up women doing messed-up things are real rarities onscreen, and we don’t have a template for empathizing with them, as we do with similar male characters. Foulcher almost dares us to continue to stay on her side as the film ups the ante on Amy’s bad behavior. This is really refreshing: movies like this one challenge our preconceptions about female propriety, and about whose stories are worth telling.

Moira Sullivan: That’s Not Me candidly shows a young woman caught up in the imaginary world of acting. Success is measured by a face and name that everyone recognizes, notwithstanding talent. Twin sister Amy complains that the paparazzi, establishments wanting endorsements, and autograph and selfie hunters represent the kind of exposure she doesn’t want. Success has a life of its own – vividly distinct from being an actor and this is the world this film shows. The obvious paradox is that all the aspirations to become an actor produce a lifestyle of its own that has little to do with acting. Read full review.

Cynthia Fuchs: “They wanted Amy and they got the other one. That’s what they actually called you in the feedback.” Poor Polly (Alice Foulcher). An aspiring actor who works part-time selling tickets at a cinema in Melbourne, she’s reminded daily that her identical twin Amy (also Alice Foulcher) has exactly the career she wants, including a role on an HBO series opposite Jared Leto. Worse, as her agent Trish (Janine Watson) tells her, Polly is “confusing people” because they keep mistaking her for her sister. Read full review.

Jennifer Merin Australian filmmaker Alice Foulcher co-wrote, co-executive produced and stars as identical twins in That’s Not Me, an entertaining dramady about two sisters who resemble each other in every way except for their disparate and dueling personalities. The film sends up sibling rivalry with a lot of humor that never demeans the twin sisters who are at the center of the story.

Esther Iverem: That’s Not Me draws us into the emotional interior of a young woman trying to “make it” as an actress. Alice Foulcher’s fine performance and the tight script by Foulcher and director Gregory Erdstein help us to walk along various paths of honesty, self delusion, self destruction and tragic comedy.

Cate Marquis In the Australian comedy, That’s Not Me, Alice Foulcher plays Polly, a struggling actor in Melbourne whose life is turned upside down when her twin sister Amy, also an actor, sudden launches into international fame. Ironically, the role that gave Amy the exposure she needed to win a part in a big movie was a part in a soap opera that Polly had turned down. Read full review.

ALSO OF INTEREST: Alice Foulcher on Collaboration, Multitasking, Fame and THAT’S NOT ME — Interview by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (Exclusive):

FILM DETAILS:

Title: That’s Not Me

Directors: Gregory Erdstein

Principal Cast: Alice Foulcher, Isabel Lucas, Richard Davies

Release Date: February 13, 2016

Running Time: 85 minutes

Language: English

Screenwriter: Alice Foulcher and Gregory Erdstein

Distribution Company: The Orchard

Trailer

Official Website

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Betsy Bozdech, Marilyn Ferinand, Cynthia Fuchs, Pam Grady, Esther Iverem, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Kristen Page-Kirby, Susan Wloszczyna, Jeanne Wolf

Previous #MOTW Selections

Other Movies Opening This Week

Edited by Jennifer Merin

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).