“That’s Not Me” from filmmakers Alice Foucher and Gregory Erdstein is the best movie featuring identical twins played by the same actor since Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze's “Adaptation.” It sports a fresh young cast and is set in Australia and Hollywood. It blends the sensibility of the Zucker Brothers, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and sings to the tune of Mel Brooks’ approach to comedy. Released locally in September this year, it’s a blithely grim look at what happens when your sibling becomes a star. I was lucky enough to get to chat to the dynamic filmmaker duo that, much like the Borg from “Star Trek,” often respond to answers in unison.
Alice Foucher: “We don’t always talk in unison either” [LAUGHS]
This excruciatingly funny film definitely inhabits the energy of the kinds of comedies that inspired it. Alice said that they wanted to create characters who wanted to win, but that you would laugh at if they continued to get kicked. Gregory described this as a collision between their sensibilities.
Gregory Erdstein: Alice is generally sunny and optimistic and she calls me cynical but I prefer the word pragmatic; [the film is] Alice’s sunny optimism being met by the brick wall of my pragmatism.
That’s not to say that “That’s Not Me,” is arduous. The humour is dry, absurd and played with a deftly straight faced delivery. Alice said that she and Greg love that quintessential Australian dry sense of humour which doesn’t get showcased as much on film. The filmmakers focussed on wanting the comedy to rely upon the situation rather than the performance. The connection to the Zucker brothers is implicit on the screen, but explicit in the inspiration.
GE: One of my favourite films of all time is “Top Secret.” I always remember reading interviews with the Zucker brothers and the whole key to why a film like “Flying High” works is because they cast proper actors, not comedians, who were there to ‘play it straight.’
What’s somewhat refreshing is that the portrayal of L.A isn’t characteristically glamourous. There’s a train trip to Frankston that makes L.A feel like a cluttered and lifeless hive. My question about this feeling causes more laughs with Alice.
GE: We didn’t want it to seem like a travel postcard. We shot some stuff, coming over the bridge and seeing the city skyline and looked at it and thought – ‘this isn’t the film - this isn’t the experience of our characters.’ We want the film to feel lived in, the cinematography and the music. I think it’s what you’re talking about. You go to L.A and you don’t have that experience.
“That’s Not Me,” delivers another breakout comedic performance and that’s Isabel Lucas. When I asked Alice and Gregory about that collaboration they were quick to celebrate her influence on the character and her pitch perfect timing. Alice went on to say that because Isabel was in at the writing stage of the project they were able to build her short but vital cameo to stretch her acting muscles and demonstrate her range that she hadn’t been able to showcase before.
AF: “I love Isabel’s performance. I’ve known her for about ten years, which is how we got her for the film. We didn’t loosely originally based the character on her. And we thought it would add an extra star thing if she made a cameo of herself… [But ultimately] it was too close to the bone.
“That’s Not Me” is a terrific Australian comedy from two burgeoning filmmakers. It’s the kind of film, and they’re the kind of people in talking to them that it’s irresistible to ask them what they’re up to next. You find yourself as desperate as Polly for this team to be the successful identical twin and not the one who stays in Melbourne and goes back to working as a modest movie theatre usher.