Peter W. Sheehan, Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting
THAT’S NOT ME. Starring: Alice Foulcher, and Isabel Lucas. Also, Andrew Gilbert, Catherine Hill, and Rowan Davie. Directed by Gregory Erdstein. Rated MA15+ (Strong coarse language). 86 min. Moccasin Films.
This Australian comedy tells the story of an actress who is mistaken for her celebrity twin sister, and comes to use the mistake to her advantage, which affects her and her relationships to those around her. The film is set in Melbourne, and contains a number of reconstructed LA scenes.
In the movie, St Kilda doubles for Los Angeles. It is Gregory Erdstein’s debut feature as Director, and the film was written by Erdstein together with the film’s main actress, Alice Foulcher.
Poly Cuthbert (Alice Foulcher) envies her twin sister, Amy, and is incredibly jealous that Amy has landed a major role in an important television show. Her sister, Amy, is one of the most popular young actresses on Australian television. She herself is plagued by a lack of self-confidence, and has a family that is not entirely accepting of her acting talent.
Towards the end of the film, Alice Foulcher assumes the role of both Poly and Amy. Poly has been auditioned for acting roles in the past, but has always been rejected for not “being the other one”. With Amy’s popularity, Poly’s dreams of some day making it as an actress seem shattered. Almost everywhere, she is mistaken for her sister, and she resents that happening.
Poly has the job of selling cinema tickets (and Choc-tops) at Melbourne’s Astor Theatre, and she loses her job for being rude to customers. With a failed job behind her, she sets off for LA to stay with an actress friend of hers, Zoe Cooper (Isabel Lucas). Zoe has had the good fortune to star in a David Lynch movie, but she has only been partially successful since. Poly is discouraged by what she sees Hollywood as offering her, leaves Zoe and LA behind, and flies back home.
Back in Australia, Poly grasps the opportunity that presents itself, and uses Amy’s identity to her advantage. In Amy’s name, she gets new clothes, food, and alcohol. Her sister is on video as dating a heartthrob (whom we never see), and she implicates him casually in her relationships.
The film mixes professional ambition with sibling rivalry in an interesting way. It is a smart comedy about ambition, that is energetic, well scripted, and offers a sophisticated look at a 27 year old woman, who has trouble realising her dreams. The opening scene shows Poly sitting on a toilet rehearsing a simulated acceptance speech for her future Academy Award, that models Cate Blanchett. The scene establishes immediately the kind of person Amy is, and how far she has to go to deserve what she is saying about herself. It is a comic, poignant moment.
Foulcher impressively performs both Poly and Amy. She is mean and likeable, and differentiates the two characters in a way that creates insights about both persons, and she is adept at playing different roles simultaneously. Isabel Lucas particularly impresses as an actress battling recognition and too many auditions back in LA.
This is a feel-good movie about thwarted ambition, and is a character-comedy that shows a rising talent in Foulcher. Made on a low budget of just $60k, the film has the look of a film that is a more polished and sophisticated than its budget leads one to expect. It is a comedy that also makes some interesting satirical observations about the film industry. If the industry is ruthless, the film tells us, then no one will be a success without first accepting that the industry is not as shallow as it looks.
The end of the film hints at intrigue when Amy and Poly flirt with shifting characters, but the twin-sister plot never eventuates. The movie struggles a little to come to a satisfactory conclusion, but there are lots of smiles, and satirical observations along the way. This is a low-budget Australian comedy that punches well above its weight, and the film is very entertaining and enjoyable.
Peter W. Sheehan is Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting