The other Tom (2021) TIFF 2021

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

He was not the model child of the place. The model boy he knew well enough and hated him with all his heart.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Director Rodrigo Plá cannot imagine Tom Sawyer living in this era. Twain would surely not have been able to capture his adventures because with a hasty diagnosis of hyperactivity or another syndrome they would have filled him with pills to calm him down. How good that Tom could live in another time and what a pity that the new Tom had to live in this one. The other Tom (2021) began to make noise with his nomination at the Venice Film Festival and from there he went on to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It was at this stop where I was able to coincide with the film. Its circuit of festivals has not stopped and along the way it has been collecting various awards.

The pair of Rodrigo Plá and Laura Santullo writes and directs a discreet and unpretentious film, but which is launched with everything on a rugged subject. The speech sets its sights on medical professionals, diagnoses in children, and the careless use of medications. With a simple but forceful story, this pair of filmmakers conceives a fictional tale that borders on reality with such precision that at times we feel that we are watching a documentary. The protest is the tool that shapes language and helps shape creative decisions for staging.

Tom and Elena

Elena (Julia Chavez) lives alone with her son Tom (Israel Rodríguez). Their daily life is ruled by chaos, Elena works to find a livelihood while Tom attends school and then kills time watching television. The routine has become a kind of necessary evil. Elena and Tom just get carried away. An event at Tom’s school pulls the family out of infinite repetition and ends with the boy being medicated for conduct disorder. It is at this point where the script for The other Tom takes off and the characters begin to evolve. Elena will have to make a decision that puts the future of the family at risk.

One of the strongest points of Plá y Santullo’s film is the depth of its characters. Elena and Tom are easy to relate to because their feelings transcend the screen. Their dialogues are short and precise, but their gestures are wide and intense. The camera of Odei Zabaleta (The reasons for the world, A monster with a thousand heads) sits at a safe distance and from there we watch the lives of our protagonists go by. It brings us close enough to show us their most intimate side but leaves a space that reminds us that we are outside their lives and that we are mere spectators.

The other Tom looks at the diagnostic system and process, emphasizing the consequences and side effects on a physical and psychological level that children and their families face when medical professionals are not acting without judgment.

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