A nifty two-hander that's generally aware of its limitations, "Me/The Other" strips away the thin veneer of trust between two fishermen -- one Italian, the other Tunisian -- to reveal the ever-present fear of the other. Worthy debut feature by Tunisian-in-exile Mohsen Melliti occasionally gets the tone wrong, briefly lurching into over-heightened emotions, but in general, does a respectable job of exposing misplaced personal attitudes and the insidiousness of media fear-mongering.

A nifty two-hander that’s generally aware of its limitations, “Me/The Other” strips away the thin veneer of trust between two fishermen — one Italian, the other Tunisian — to reveal the ever-present fear of the other. Worthy debut feature by Tunisian-in-exile Mohsen Melliti occasionally gets the tone wrong, briefly lurching into over-heightened emotions, but in general, does a respectable job of exposing misplaced personal attitudes and the insidiousness of media fear-mongering. Local biz on May release was unsurprisingly weak for such a self-consciously stripped-down work, though latter quality should appeal to fest auds.

Further distancing himself from his heartthrob image, Raoul Bova produced and stars as Giuseppe, a Sicilian fisherman in partnership with Yousef Ben Ali (Giovanni Martorana). Out at sea, they overhear radio reports about a suspected terrorist, also named Yousef Ben Ali, leading Giuseppe to second-guess his old friend. The unsophisticated Giuseppe becomes so convinced of Yousef’s double life that he locks the guy into the hold, but Yousef escapes and a cat-and-mouse game ensues. Thesping is fine, and Melliti is especially good at foregrounding the isolation at sea, where radio reports create a dangerous air of suspicion.

Me/The Other

Italy

Production

A 20th Century Fox release (in Italy) of a Trees Pictures, Sanmarco production, in association with Aldo Arcangeli, Minollo Film, Password. (International sales: Adriana Chiesa Enterprises, Rome.) Produced by Maurizio Santarelli, Raoul Bova. Directed, written by Mohsen Melliti.

Crew

Camera (color), Maurizio Calvesi; editor, Marco Spoletini; music, Louis Siciliano, Roberto Colavalle; production designers, Gianluca Onorati, Ketty Di Tardo; costume designer, Carolina Olcese. Reviewed at Rome Film Festival (New Cinema Network), Oct. 19, 2007. Original title: Io, l'altro. Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Raoul Bova, Giovanni Martorana, Mario Pupella, Samia Zibidi, Lina Besrat Assefa, Mohammed Ali.
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