The Other Girl (2020): The Reality of Infidelity
The COVID-19 pandemic was a difficult time that affected the lives of many people, mostly through familial loss. For those who were more fortunate, it left them with little to nothing much to do. With everyone stuck under the lockdowns, tensions arise and conflicts often break out. In this film’s case, it’s not that different from what you would expect, but with just with one problem: infidelity.
Adam (played by Jesse Janzen) and Danielle (played by Leah Finity) are a couple who are going through a string of tough times that are slowly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Danielle wants Adam to get a job and take more responsibility around the apartment all while Adam refuses to do so. Things begin to worsen when Adam begins to blame Danielle for minor inconveniences such as moving the butter in the fridge. One day, Danielle decides to rent out his photography studio to another girl, Libby (played by Samantha Laurenti). However, things get awkward when it’s revealed that Adam has been cheating on Danielle with Libby for about a year.
First off, the acting is really good. Jesse Janzen, Leah Finity and Samantha Laurenti all give believable performances that feel down-to-Earth. Jesse pulls off Adam’s self-obsessed and conceited behavior that would make just about anyone cringe at how childish he acts. Meanwhile, Samantha Laurenti as Libby is perfectly manipulative as she tries to get Adam to break things off with Danielle. Speaking of Danielle, she really is the only character the audience sympathizes with, as she carries the relationship, pays for all the bills and puts up with Adam’s shenanigans. However, what makes this relationship all the more believable and entertaining to watch is the fact that Jesse Janzen and Leah Finity are in a long-term relationship in real life. As a quick side note, I’d like to mention that if any of the cast sounds familiar, it is because they were featured in Infrared, which was also directed by Robert Livings. I personally love it when directors work with recurring cast members, since it often shows a strong work relationship between actors and directors.
As a whole, the plot is straightforward and doesn’t contain many surprises. However, this is not a bad thing as Adam is a complete jerk from start to finish, blaming everyone for his problems except himself and digs himself an increasingly deeper grave. The humor in this black comedy stems from watching his world fall apart and him trying to act “reasonable” in this chaos. It’s both funny to see him desperately attempt to worm his way out of admitting to the infidelity while getting called out for his awful behavior, in addition to being uncomfortable and tense to watch his relationship with Danielle fall apart. But despite this initial discomfort, it is cathartic as hell to see the inevitable fate of a relationship so obviously broken.
This film was made on a budget of $200 and limited crew consisting of Robert Livings and Randy Nundlall Jr, who not only directed, but also did the cinematography and Austin Blank, who was in charge of sound mixing. Additionally, the cast were also involved in writing their own dialogue. I am continuously impressed by director Robert Livings’ ability to make so much out of so little. The film was shot with Panasonic AG-DVX100B cameras which Livings said was a throwback to early 2000s mumblecore films, and I have to say that the results are spectacular! My favorite moment with the cinematography was how it creates tension and unease when we watch Adam trying to be honest with Danielle about both their relationship and his affair. The zoom ins and close-ups are carefully used to portray the awkwardness that not only the characters are feeling, but also convey that feeling to the audience.
The Other Girl is a solid black comedy that shows the reality of infidelity and the impact it has on a relationship. Packed with solid performances, subtle cinematography, realistic dialogue and engaging characters, the film is another strong showing for both Robert Livings and Randy Nundlall Jr. and the entire cast. To see two directors make a really good film from so little is both refreshing and inspiring, considering that there have been some rather notorious independent directors who gathered a cult internet following for making worse films while having abundant resources. In an industry where many fail, the few exceptional soar. While making a film is by no means an easy feat, to make a good film with limited resources is an ability that will take any director far.
Co-Written by: Owen Gonzalez