"Someone Else" is a finely scripted, classily played relationships movie for a connoisseur audience. Though pic relies heavily on viewers' familiarity with Comic Stephen Mangan, anyone with an appreciation of nuanced English playing and quiet craftsmanship should respond to this feature. Theatrical chances loom difficult beyond festival dates, though this is definitely bigscreen fare.
A small pearl in the gritty ocean of indie Brit grunge, “Someone Else” is a finely scripted, classily played relationships movie for a connoisseur audience. Though pic relies heavily on viewers’ familiarity with the laidback persona of comic Stephen Mangan (from cult TV series “Green Wing”), anyone with an appreciation of nuanced English playing and quiet craftsmanship should respond to this impressive first feature by commercials maker Col Spector. At the tricky running time of 76 minutes, theatrical chances loom difficult beyond festival dates, though this is definitely bigscreen fare.
Spector previously helmed the award-winning short, “New Year’s Eve,” with Mangan and Keira Knightley, and there’s much of the same dry humor and simple technique at work in “Someone Else.” Shot in only 18 days, but gorgeously composed in Panavision widescreen by d.p. Trevor Forrest, pic largely uses only master shots and fades, with little obvious technique getting between the audience and the actors.
Central couple is David (Mangan), a portrait photographer, and Lisa (Susan Lynch), first seen at a small dinner party talking about their holiday to Venice to celebrate three years together. Lisa is all gung-ho about the trip; David looks a tad panicked.
Next thing, David has fallen for the slightly spacey Nina (Lara Belmont), whom he meets on a park bench, and starts feels guilty about his treatment of Lisa, who’s madly in love with him. But when he comes clean to Lisa, she kicks him out; and then Nina says she’s already seeing someone else.
A natural chat-up artist, David is left berth-less. What’s more, Lisa says she’s really happy being single again — oh, and don’t forget you owe me the money for the Venice ticket.
First of several neat surprises is when David’s loser friend, Matt (Beatle-haired Christopher Coghill), finds Lisa’s photo among those sent to him by a dating agency. Thinking she’s still lonely, David dashes round to her place. Subsequent events reshuffle the pack in delicate ways, with a quiet but emotionally loaded conclusion.
Mangan essentially gives another variation on his patented low-key lothario but, given that the role was written with him in mind, it’s a valid performance. Lynch makes a perfect foil for his wounded-puppy persona and gets several emotionally trenchant moments of her own. Sexual chemistry between the two is almost tangible, especially in the sequence where David thinks he has a second chance with Lisa.
Because the script stays emotionally true, and there’s not a wasted frame, pic never feels like an extended short, despite the ultra-trim running time. And despite Mangan’s experience in improv, he’s never allowed to run away with the picture.