Luca Carvelli understands the power of film. The modern world is a place where division is sewn by those who would convince you that decisions are easily made but Luca pushes back against this concept with his film The Other Place. Context cannot be understated in the course of human actions and a film can be the societal lubrication for understanding. Carvelli’s latest production presents the intersect of recidivism and parental love. The story implies questions that extend beyond the actions of its characters such as what responsibility society has in caring for children with terminal illnesses. The Other Place occurs in present day but is based on the evergreen concept of what a parent will sacrifice to obtain hope for their child. Brilliantly shot and told, The Other Place has garnered awards from numerous prestigious festivals such as the Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Awards.
The opening minutes of The Other Place are dark by intent. Michael (played by Conor Murphy of multiple Primetime Emmy Award–nominated series The Good Place) agonizes in his car about facing his family now that he has been released from prison. He feels that he has failed them. Moments later as his wife [Rachel] pleads on the phone for help with her son’s medical bills, the same sense of desperation and failure resonates in her voice. The juxtaposition of these concepts is a suggestion that criminality is not restricted to the legal code’s definition. Elements of foreshadowing, such as the miniature soldier that Michael’s son Billy is painting and the toy gun Michael removes from a drawer, suggest that ensuing events seem almost predestined. The true quandary for Michael is whether he will sacrifice his own chance at redemption in order to provide a brighter future for his son. Told in a style which blends Neo-Noir genre with a hint of Magical Realism, where the ordinary world meets an extraordinary world, The Other Place is as epic as any tale from Greek mythology.
As the screenwriter and the director of The Other Place, Luca has magnificently sculpted a story which allows the audience to empathize with Michael. The minute delineation which separates criminal action and loving commitment is starkly evident in this film. It’s easy to relate to Michael’s actions and intentions, even if we might not follow his path. The visual tone of this film and the directing place us in the same dark (literally) world that traps Michael, concealing any positive options. Not until the last scene where Michael, Billy, and Rachel are reunited for the last time together peacefully are we able to feel some release of tension. Shrewdly, Carvelli has left the viewer to wonder what type of retribution faces Michael. This open-ending adds a hint of anxiety to the story, one that’s quite pleasing. Luca purposely challenges the intersect of morals and ethics in Michael’s plight. He communicates, “I’ve always found stories about families thought-provoking and engaging. My film aims to raise awareness on the responsibility and union of the family, as the first social and essential focal point in our lives despite the difficulties we face. Growing up without a father figure and raised by my grandparents, I’ve always questioned what would have been my life if my actual father came back to join with my mother and I. From this question, I took inspiration from movies which treat themes like alienation and redemption. The main character is an outcast because of his previous lifestyle, who wants to abandon his isolation proving he is a good father and achieve his atonement. Beyond my personal issue, I’ve always felt compassion for friends of mine who have difficulties in raising their children affected by genetic diseases and how difficult it can be to find special care because of expensive costs. This is especially hard in the U.S. where this kind of treatment can be an ordeal for families who want to find cures for their children.”
What is most extraordinary about a film is not VFX, majestic vistas, or dazzling costumes; it’s the ability of a story and a performance to allow the audience to inhabit the life or someone who seems quite different from themselves. At the hand of a supremely talented artist like Luca Carvelli, a film allows us to see shades of ourselves in someone whom we might criticize or even condemn. While it depicts a mortal sin, The Other Place maneuvers us into an emotional space where we contemplate the hues of criminal intent. Mr. Carvelli has delivered a story that is gritty and quickly shifts form pensive moments to violent actions without ever feeling exaggerated. These big swings serve to magnify the more serene instances in the story, reminding us that real life has all the drama that a great story would ever need.
Writer: Basil Thomson