The Other Side
Director: Warren Pemberton
Starring: Erica Hubbard, Altovise Lawrence
New local film The Other Side has a lot of potential to be a great romantic drama. Unfortunately, its total disregard for its own potential is glaringly obvious.
The themes of forbidden love, the oppression of queer-identifying people by the church and forced relationships have all made themselves available for exploration, but director Warren Pemberton does not do anything noteworthy with any of them.
In it we meet engaged couple Allen (Brad James) and Gemma (Erica Hubbard). All is blissful until Gemma’s college friend Kiya (Altovise Lawrence) comes to visit, stirring up old feelings between the two women.
But Gemma’s questioning of her sexuality does not come easily with a deeply conservative family thrown into the mix.
The supporting cast of Miguel A Núñez Jr (Tobias), Robert Browning (Tony) and Nick Arapoglou (Joel) are a waste of much-needed screen time, providing only empty comic relief.
This time that could have been much better used to flesh out the leads, who are in desperate need of some life. They are entirely unconvincing as an onscreen couple, with very little chemistry between the two.
Hubbard fails to deliver a damsel in distress performance and her very wooden acting makes it hard to believe that Gemma has ever loved, and is actually oppressed by her family’s beliefs or the conflict of having to choose between two love interests. Having to watch such delivery makes the film nearly unbearable.
What makes this even worse is the movie’s villain Martin, played by Roger G Smith. He plays Gemma’s staunch Christian father.
Either because of poor direction or acting skills, Roger G Smith looks like he’s recovering from a drug binge whenever he appears on screen.
If your plot is heavily dependent on Gemma’s family being homophobic and that is why she cannot freely be a proud gay woman … put more effort into conveying the hatred that justifies why Gemma should remain in the closet.
The saving grace of the movie is Lawrence. The character of Kiya is a well established author, which in itself creates a sense of competition between herself and Gemma’s fiancé, Allen, who is yet to finish writing a book of his own. Lawrence brings to life her character who is passionate, yearning and unapologetic, everything her co-stars are not.