Film Reviews

Review: ‘I Am Another You’

Hot Docs 2017

Courtesy of Hot Docs

I Am Another You
(USA, 85 min.)
dir. Nanfu Wang
Programme: International Spectrum (International Premiere)

I Am Another You is an intricately layered, visually seductive exploration of the longing for absolute freedom, the thin white line between vision and madness, and director Nanfu Wang’s search for her own identity via her main character.

Having moved from China to New York, travel-loving Wang hits the road for Florida where she meets Dylan, who quickly becomes the subject of this film and an ongoing obsession. He fascinates her with his philosophy of unconditional freedom and craving for all forms of human experience.

Embracing each moment, Dylan seems to be utterly captivated by whoever his path crosses. He gazes at people, smiling beatifically. Later in the film, Dylan’s rapture takes on other meanings, but even early on, there’s an edgy subtext to his enthusiasm.

Wang notices that invariably, the people they meet want to give him food, money and places to say. After all, not only is he charmingly outgoing, he probably ignites their repressed free spirit. He represents “another them.”

And with his blond curls and angelic face, Dylan is a sunlit, fairy-tale prince in search of a dream.

The opening chapter of I Am Another You offers almost zero backstory for Dylan. Then in Utah, Wang meets up with a thoughtful, sympathetic cop. From that point on, the film goes deeper and darker as it fully conveys Dylan’s past and how it links to the present. Along with Wang, we get new perceptions of the actions and reactions we saw earlier on.

Ultimately, Wang celebrates the nomadic spirits of this world, but not without misgivings. Along the way, her film lyrically highlights beautiful Florida beaches and Utah mountains. She also deploys trippy montages with sound mesh overloads in a unique doc with a vibrant pulse.

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Maurie Alioff writes about movies for publications off- and on-line, and is a screenwriter currently collaborating on a documentary featuring Bob Marley’s granddaughter while researching other Jamaica-related projects, including a magical-realist crime story drawing on stories he hears on the island. He has written for radio, journals and TV, taught screenwriting and been a contributing editor to various magazines.

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