Someone Else Review
The blurb on the back of this DVD says, "If you're a bloke, you [will be] looking awkwardly at your shoes and wondering how someone got inside your head to find this stuff out!" Only that I am a bloke and, for the most part. it didn't hit home quite enough to have that reaction. There were no awkward glances at my DMs, no awkward silences and, with a complete absence of references to Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Fighting Fantasy and Tron, so sign of them ever having been inside my head. There was, however, a slight amusement and the noting of how far relationships and conversations about relationships in the movies are from those in real life, a case of boys against girls in the battleground of suburban London.
Stephen Mangan (Green Wing but don't let that put you off!) stars as David, a thirtysomething guy who is apparently happy in his relationship with Lisa (Susan Lynch). The first signs that something might be wrong comes at a dinner party when Lisa announces that she has paid for a weekend away in Venice for them, a surprise that leaves David speechless. Unknown to Lisa, David has been meeting Nina (Lara Belmont), a freer spirit than Lisa, who represents a life without commitment. As talk of Lisa turns to marriage, Nina meets with David in a park and, together, they talk of spending more time together. But is David at risk of losing both Lisa and Nina in his search for romance?
Granted, I haven't been single for more than a decade and while drug and alcohol use have both contributed to a rather suspect memory, I still remember the single life being funnier than how Someone Else has presented it. Selective it may be but the memories of being humiliated by painfully attractive women have dimmed while those of giggling my way out of pubs and nightclubs seven or eight sheets to the wind have remained. And with those moments came an understanding that life and the loves therein was, first and foremost, to be laughed at.
Someone Else, on the other hand, takes life very seriously indeed. In real life, David calling Michael's wife a camp commandant would have been met with a, "Fuck off, David!" delivered half in jest but Someone Else has Michael (Shaun Dingwall) ordering David out of his house, like a pair of six-year-olds who have just ended a bad-tempered game of Subbuteo. This is not unique. The moments between David and his friend Matt (Chris Coghill) are also notable by their lack of good humour. No friend, no matter how understanding, could hold a straight face as well as Matt does when David confides of his impotence. The same can be said about the conversations Matt and David have with the women they meet, which are so joyless as to suggest they'll only find happiness with an equally miserable woman who they'll marry and subsequently spend a life with while always wondering what might have been. One date is a perfect example of this, in which David turns down a night together on account of her still being in love with someone else. It can't just have been me who, perhaps looking at my shoes to aid with the concentrating, would have been calculating the odds on getting laid regardless of outside attachments. Only Paul (John Henshaw) strikes the right note in the film with his tales of swinging, of the difficulty of romancing two woman at the same time and what happens when a man finds him in bed with his wife.
There is, though, a sweet ending to the film, one that sees everyone reaching some kind of resolution. There is even a surprise in this with Someone Else finding a way out of the predictable, at least in avoiding a happy ending. There are other equally memorable moments in Someone Else, including David photographing a Freddie Mercury lookalike, Paul being quickly frisked by his girlfriend and Michael's children cheering up two young women by offering them their balloon. But the best of the film comes when David photographs an elderly couple celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary, who look to be very deeply in love at first before saying, "I married him...not out of love. Do you remember that miserable little ring you gave me?" before her husband comes back with an exasperated, "What can I do with her?" Col Spector's message is not to say that marriage brings misery but that the happiness that it takes to make a marriage is not the same as needing to find perfection. To that I'd add laughter but Spector clearly disagrees.
Pay no mind to what the DVD cover says with its 1.85:1, Someone Else is anamorphically presented in 2.40:1 and after a rather dull-looking opening, soon finds its stride with Stephen Mangan strolling through the park on a cold winter's day. Director Col Spector finds a style that suits his script (co-written with Radha Chakraborty) and whether it's in his lighting of the dinner party or his framing of the pubs and bars where David and Matt attempt to find a girlfriend. There's an impressive amount of detail in the picture and both colour and brightness are good.
Unfortunately, for all this, there's a problem with the transfer of the audio track onto DVD. At first, I thought it was the kind of problem that comes with an amplifier running separately to the DVD player or television, in that due to the delays in the audio cabling and in the processing the sound can be slightly out of sync. Usually, this can be fixed using the DELAY setting on the amplifier and did so here but a second watching of the film through the speakers on a television set revealed the sound to be out of synch with the action. This is most obvious (and annoying) in the lip synch problems that plague the DVD. This is most obvious in the early part of the film, particularly in the first twenty minutes but it continues throughout. There is also a noisy blip around forty-five minutes that also shows up as dots on the screen. The pity about this is that the visual presentation is very good indeed whereas the audio is the very opposite. Finally, there are subtitles listed on the DVD cover but there are none on the film.
Behind The Scenes (4m50s): Amidst the bustle of the cast and crew on the set, one had expected an interview with Col Spector or Stephen Mangan but this avoids any of that in favour of the footage that comes from handing someone a video recorder and instructing them to make something for the DVD extras. As such, there isn't very much of interest in this.
Commentary: Col Spector and Stephen Mangan are together for this track and it's a good one. Together, they discuss the background to the film, their making of an earlier short film, New Year's Eve and how Spector scraped together the funding for Someone Else. Their conversation isn't specific to any scene in particular at first but when they exhaust their describing of the pre-production, they move on to those staples of commentary tracks, being casting, locations and writing.
New Year's Eve (16m20s): As mentioned on the commentary, Spector made a short film some years before Someone Else, which he later raided for the dinner party scene in his later film. In this, Stephen Mangan arrives at a New Year's party where he meets the fifteen-year-old Keira Knightly, who is the niece of his host. Like Someone Else, there is still the feeling that no one talks like this in real life - maybe it's me but no fifteen-year-old has any interest in a thirtysomething man and certainly not one who comes on to her by reading her palm - but the Stephen Mangan character is much more likeable here than David was in Someone Else. Otherwise, it's very close to the dinner party in Someone Else, only with a reiki healer taking on the Keira Knightly role and with a taxi driver joining the party. Like the main feature, this comes with a commentary by Stephen Mangan and Col Spector.
Finally, there is a Trailer (1m34s) and a Soda Trailer Reel that includes Keane (2m01s), Old Joy (2m20s) and After The Wedding (2m06s).