THAT'S NOT ME

★★★

A MARVEL OF INDIE INGENUITY

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Jake Watt
13th June 2017

In the Aussie comedy ‘That’s Not Me’, director Gregory Erdstein’s debut feature, Alice Foulcher plays Polly, an aspiring Melbourne actor, and Amy, a hugely successful actor and Polly’s identical twin sister. Amy has just landed an HBO series (and possible romantic partnership) with Jared Leto, whereas Polly is plagued by indecision and only attracts hipster douchebags. To make matters worse, after turning down a role as a mysterious albino on a popular soap opera, she keeps losing gigs after getting mistaken for her sister. With waning parental support and a reluctant agent, coupled with being fired from her job as an usher in a cinema, Polly considers a move to LA to stay with an actor friend who once starred in a David Lynch film (Isabel Lucas, 'The Water Diviner', 'Red Dawn', 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen').

Foulcher and Erdstein poke fun at the shallowness of the local and international film industry. Polly is an actress who works at a movie theatre but doesn’t watch Australian films. Her romantic interest in a self-absorbed wannabe director who wants to contemporise old French plays and still lives at home with his mother. Polly’s twin sister is praised for her “unique look”, while Polly is accidentally offered roles intended for her high-profile sister. An amusing cameo from Isabel Lucas as a fellow actor living in LA shows the lengths struggling actors go to get their foot in the door and includes a nice little gag about Sean Young’s legendary Catwoman audition. Lucas’ speech about not wanting “hot girl” roles and losing parts in films to porn stars feels particularly pointed and close-to-the-bone.

'THAT'S NOT ME' TRAILER

Erdstein had previously collaborated with co-writer Foulcher on a number of short films, including ‘Picking Up at Auschwitz,’ which was nominated for the Short Film Competition Prize at the 2012 St Kilda Film Festival, ‘A Bit Rich’ and ‘Paris Syndrome.’ Here, the pair have assembled an impressive roster of Australian acting talent, including Andrew O’Keefe (TV's ‘Deal or No Deal’ and ‘Weekend Sunrise’), Andrew Gilbert (‘Kiss or Kill’, ‘Round the Twist’), Nikita Leigh-Pritchard (‘Please Like Me’), Steve Mouzakis (‘Prison Break’), Ming Zhu-Hii (‘The Ex-PM’), Benjamin Rigby (‘Alien: Covenant’), Arthur Angel (‘Red Dog’), Belinda Misevski and Rowan Davie.

From a first-time feature writer/director/actor team, ‘That’s Not Me’ is a marvel of indie ingenuity. Shot over nine months in Melbourne and Los Angeles, it was filmed for $60k, the budget kept down with the participation of various friends (working on deferred payments) in the film industry. This includes Isabel Lucas, a longtime friend of Foulcher, who filmed her part during a family visit to Melbourne. This film looks and sounds like a million bucks.

‘That’s Not Me’ is a marvel of indie ingenuity.

A few moments of wobbly acting and a slightly abrupt ending are overcome by dollops of charm, confident direction and a script that feels drawn from personal experience. Standout performances come from Foulcher as identical twins whose lives are diverging, Andrew Gilbert as her loving dad who just wants to hang out and play guitar with Jared Leto (spoiler: in no way involved in the making of this film), and Isabel Lucas as an actress battling her way through auditions in LA because she loves her work.

The Q&A after my screening of the film at the Hayden Orpheum confirmed suspicions that the production was a complete love-fest between the tightly-knit cast and crew, with Erdstein also making some interesting points about the difficulties inherit in making an Australian comedy “without a dog”. He also repeated a colleague’s theory that for an Australian film to be successful, each audience member has to recommend it to four friends.

To that extent, ‘That’s Not Me’ is well worth watching, then telling four friends about. I’m curious to see what Erdstein and Foulcher do next.

Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
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