THE OTHER TOM is a kick in the ass.
The film is the story of Elena, a young mother who is having trouble with her son. He is diagnosed with ADHD and is promptly put on meds. However the meds make the boy into a zombie and a mere shadow of his former self. Elena wants to get him off the drugs but the move to do so brings her into a battle with the authorities who want “what’s best for the boy”. But is it really best?
In an age when everyone is on meds there aren’t many films discussing what all of the pills that are supposed to make us better are really doing to us. No one is really discussing how the pills are changing us. This is really the first time I've seen anyone mention it in anything more than a passing reference. The fact that this film deals with the side effects is really important.
In the decade before my mother passed away she was on a weird cocktail of medicines that were supposed to keep her alive. All of them had the side effect of depression and suicidal thoughts. They turned my Mom into a depressed zombie who slept all day. When my mom talked to her doctor about the effect, the doctor prescribed an antidepressant with side effect of suicidal thoughts. They never could get the mix right and the only way my mom could ever feel normal was not to take anything.
I was delighted to see a film that focused on the battle I saw waged on a daily basis. I love that someone finally has stepped up and brought the battle to the attention of a large audience.
But don't let me over sell that one aspect, there is more to the film than that. It is a really good look at a single mom trying to take care of her son. It’s a film that seems to be digging at what its like to be the single parent more than many recent films. Things are not glossed over and I love that because it forces us to consider what it is showing us and not just move on to the next thing.
A lot of praise for this working needs to go to the great cast especially, Julia Chavez as Elena who gives us a character we can relate to and root for. They sell it all and seem to be living the story instead of just enacting it.
This is a super little film and is highly recommended when it plays in Venice and Toronto.