The Other Man


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Schindler and Zorro, together at last!

In a demonstration of Hollywood's new economics at work, this is the second time within a few months that Antonio Banderas has joined other former A-listers in a film which could not wrangle a theatrical distribution. A few months earlier, Banderas and Morgan Freeman went directly to discs in a caper film called Thick as Thieves (aka The Code). This time Zorro is paired with Oscar nominee Liam Neeson and three-time Oscar nominee Laura Linney.

Why was it so difficult to get a tiny theatrical release for this film? Because The Other Man is an odd movie which would be impossible to market or advertise. In fact, if I tell you right now what kind of movie it really is, I will spoil it for you, because it seems at first to be something completely different, and it wears that false face for an extended period of time.

The film begins with an elegant restaurant dinner between a power couple (Neeson and Linney), who have been happily married for decades. As they make small talk, the wife asks the husband if he has ever considered cheating or regretted missed sexual opportunities. Something in the tone of her voice and the look in her eyes tells him that she is projecting, or perhaps trying to tell him something, but she reveals no more.

Meanwhile, in another movie ...

Neeson wakes up; Linney is gone, for reasons which are not explained to the audience. Neeson becomes obsessed with some files on his wife's computer and some messages on her cell phone which make it clear that she either had or is having an affair with a man named Ralph (Banderas). Neeson becomes increasingly more determined to find ol' Ralph, and to confront him in some way. Neeson does eventually track Banderas down and pretends to befriend him, but does not reveal his true identity. At the same time, Neeson is pretending to be Linney in e-mails to Banderas.

Neeson gets violent urges when he finds Banderas to be a cocky, obnoxious Milanese yuppie. What will Neeson do? Does he intend to kill his wife's "other man"? Is he seeking closure in some other way? And where has Linney gone, if she is not with either of them?

You now have the impression that the film is some kind of Hitchcockesque psychological mystery/thriller, or a lurid revenge/guilt plot in the manner of Chabrol. In fact, it is nothing of the sort. Everything detail I have described so far is either totally misleading or at least significantly different from what it appears to be, and the film's chronology is not transparent. I can reveal no more without spoiling the surprises, and the entire value of the film derives directly from those surprises. As I mentioned above, I can't even tell you what kind of a movie it really is. I probably shouldn't even have told you it was not really a Hitchcock/Chabrol type of movie, but I guess I'm just not subtle enough to have avoided that.

"Setting all that aside," you wonder, "is it any good?" Well ... um ... sorta. You might appreciate it, but you must be aware of a few points.

* The very few critics who reviewed it (Variety and The Hollywood Reporter and a tiny smattering of others) demonstrated no enthusiasm for the script. There was some praise for the performances and the cinematography, which featured some lovely looks at Milan and Lake Como, as well as some elegant interiors of various restaurants, hotels, and so forth. In counter balance to that, there was general critical derision for the twist-happy plot, and there was some disappointment in the clumsy management of mood, suspense, and atmosphere.

* It is a chick-flick. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's rated 1.5 points higher by females at IMDb than by males. We have determined that a difference of one or more points tends to place the film in Estrogenland. My own opinion of the film confirms the impression generated by those scores. I can't say more because of the "hip-or-critical oath" of critic-reader confidentiality, but you have been warned.

Whether it is a chick-flick or not, I liked it more than the critics did. I think my reaction can be explained by the fact that I didn't much care for the direction it originally seemed to be taking, so I didn't share the critics' sense of disappointment when it veered off at another angle.

Should you see it? You should not if you want to see a Hitchcock film or a big, juicy thriller. Despite all the pulpy plot twists, and despite the steamy set-up, The Other Man is not an entertainment film or a guilty pleasure, and it will be more interesting to those who are inclined toward serious drama. Believe it or not

Awaiting DVD info









50 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)


6.2 IMDB summary (of 10)





According to IMDb, this will get a theatrical release in the USA on September 25, 2009.


  • Laura Linney is seen topless (in photographs, but they are presented in quite good size and quality)
  • Antonio Banderas is nude, but with everything strategically covered.



Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


I found it to be a solid movie, albeit one with small audience appeal. It took me a while to warm to it, but when I caught on to what was really going on, I was quite satisfied with it.