The Other




BERLIN -- "The Other" is a midlife crisis in search of a movie. Argentine director Ariel Rotter follows a 45-year-old man around for a few days, watching him behaving with increasing oddness for no apparent reason other than -- and this is pure speculation -- his wife's announcement of her pregnancy. The only curious thing here is what a film so lacking in energy or imagination is doing in the Competition section of the Berlinale.

Julio Chavez plays a Buenos Aires attorney who, following his wife's announcement, takes a business trip to a small town by bus. Why he goes by bus is anybody's guess. Upon arrival, he realizes the man seated next to him has died.

His business there has something to do with the foreclosure of farm property owned by an old man who has died. Upon concluding this affair, the lawyer suddenly decides to miss his bus home.

He checks into a hotel under the name of the deceased farmer. Awhile later, he checks into another hotel under the name of the dead man on the bus. He wanders around for a while until he spots an attractive woman. He follows her.

The next day he goes to the wake of his namesake. He sees the woman there, only this time she follows him. They go to her home and have sex. He tells more lies and makes up yet a third name for himself. She asks him to come back the next night for more sex.

Returning to his hotel, one of his lies catches up to him. The hotelkeeper urgently summons him to assist an ill guest. When he checked in, he claimed to be a doctor. After the paramedics leave, he catches the next bus home.

Read into this what you want, writer-director Rotter seems to be saying. Because he has made no effort to interest an audience in either his character or his unknown dilemma, few will take up the challenge. Some decent acting and fine cinematography by Marcelo Lavintman are wasted on this forlorn effort.