You or Me
Directed by: Yana Zinov
Written by: Drew Schrum
STARRING: Drew Schrum
You or Me is a psychological drama, directed by first-time directed Yana Zinov. Set in a sleek office, the conversation takes place between a suited man, Parker, and what appears to me a different part of himself - a more aggressive, self-confident character dressed in a leather jacket. Both parts are played by writer/actor Drew Schrum, and the dialogue (“The problem is Parker, you have no self without me”) suggests that the two characters are manifestations of different personalities within the same man, rather than being identical twins.
As a performer, Schrum plays the leather-clad alternate self with swagger and believability; and seems a little more comfortable in this role than as the more uptight ‘Parker’. Whilst both parts are well-performed, the suited character felt a little lacking in the kind of nuance that might have made this truly disturbing or intriguing – it might have been interesting to see the fragility of his broken mind, rather than simply alternating between highly restrained and wildly mad.
The writing too at times feels a little on the nose – references quoting Parker’s father (“Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about”) feel unnecessary – as an audience we understand the conceit of the piece without needing such obvious pointers. Again, a little more subtlety might have made the character feel more intriguing; rather than presenting everything to the audience on a plate (“My reality is a fabrication of my mind. My thoughts are not my own"). It could also have been interesting to see more of the interplay between the two sides of Parker – exactly what the alternative ‘inner’ self is offering or tempting him with, rather than him simply feeling like a ‘mad’ person with a physicalized inner voice.
At the end of the piece there is a suggestion that in fact the character struggles with numerous sides of himself, or perhaps even with dissociative identity disorder, as another new version of ‘Parker’ shows up and repeats the same line that opened the film. It is a nice concept, and well executed, but it might have been more surprising to lead the audience to believe these two are brothers and then throw in a twist at the end.
Directorially, as a debut piece of work, this is very impressive. The music and sound design is particularly strong, and the cinematography from Blaine Westropp is impressive – Parker’s alternative self is usually shot larger in the frame than his suited persona, suggesting a lack of control over his inner personality; and everything is well-lit with some creative angles and lighting states at moments when Parker’s sanity breaks down. The production design is also excellent – set in a sleek apartment with the New York skyline in the background - visually this feels like a high-end piece of work. At six minutes, the film feels slick and well-made, and would sit well in a festival programme about mental health.
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