How do we define a healthy parent-child relationship? What qualities does one need to have for their way of parenting to be considered effective? Written and directed by Laura Santullo and Rodrigo Plá, ‘The Other Tom’ is a profoundly affecting drama that introspects on such questions without turning them into something sentimental. While telling the story of a mother and her young son, it also begs us to consider the identity concerns revolving around these individuals trying to adjust to their new environments. This film was a part of prestigious film festivals across the globe from Toronto, Tokyo, and Venice.




We meet Elena (Julia Chavez), a Mexican woman who lives in the US,, along with her young son – Tom (Israel Rodriguez). They live on a safety net from the government while she tries to make ends meet by taking up work here and there as a blue-collar worker. While his father promised to share some amount every month for the family, he seems to have abandoned them to figure out things on their own. While that is a matter she needs to deal with on her own, she also needs to figure out parenting for Tom, who goes through constant trouble at his school from the teachers, who consider him a ‘problem child’ due to his erratic behavior. After he gets diagnosed with ADHD, he is required to take the prescribed meds to cope with it.

The Other Tom (2022) Movie
@TIFF ’21

However, not long after, Elena edstarted seeing some adverse effects on him from the medication that was supposed to improve his condition. It puts her at a point of conflict about whether she should discontinue him taking them altogether. Her decision to do so puts her on the radar of child services,, to whom she loses Tom’s custody. All of this happens when she struggles financially, not just for everyday needs, but to fulfill the kid’s wishes, especially his desire to meet his father. To make it feasible, she needs to work extra hours. However, that meant him needing to stay on his own during those hours, getting bored, and his impulsive bursts of anger projected onto her.




Based on the book by the film’s co-director – Laura Santullo, the script navigates their push-and-pull relationship without antagonizing Elena for her parenting style. You know she profoundly cares for Tom through the tender moments sporadically spread throughout the film’s duration, which reflect her one-sided battle to win his love and affection. The discipline she makes sure to implement on him is a part of the same concern where she wants him to be independent in the future. While managing her work responsibilities, she becomes increasingly unsure of how to deal with him and his sudden strike on her own. Being a single mother, that too as an immigrant in this foreign land, has its own set of limitations. The writing presents these struggles without being preachy about them.

What we witness are two strong-headed characters trying to co-exist in an environment that constantly pits them against one another. The execution turns ‘The Other Tom’ into a brooding drama that silently observes these two beings. We witness their chasm that unfolds without attracting too much attention to it. The thorny relationship becomes a poignant experience through the peephole we are given into their world with brutal honesty. The incredible acting performances by both Julia Chavez and Israel Rodriguez elevate the words to a level of unforgettability. The humanist approach to the direction wouldn’t have been nearly as effective without their contribution,, which makes you feel incredible compassion for both.




The cinematography by Odei Zabaleta alienates them from their surroundings, where their ghost-like existence puts forth their psychological state. The camera captures their behavioural patterns and the tiniest details that reflect who they are as individuals. The editing by Miguel Schverdfinger lets some beautiful bits of performances sink in deeper, letting them affect as brutally as the characters would have experienced it. The stalling of the probable aftermath is where the suspense of the narrative is built. Yet, the film focuses more on the characters experiencing incredibly personal moments together, which highlights what they will lose out on if the same happens.


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THE OTHER TOM TRAILER

THE OTHER TOM (2022) LINKS: IMDB, ROTTEN TOMATOES
THE OTHER TOM (2022) CAST: LEAH MILLER, JORGE CASTRO, JULIA CHAVEZ, SOFIA PRIETO
Where to watch The Other Tom

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