A mother risks losing custody of her son when she refuses to continue medicating his ADHD, after an accident alerts her to the drugs’ side-effects.
The Other Tom
Rodrigo Plá, Laura Santullo
Based on a novel by co-director Laura Santullo, the latest feature by award-winning Mexican filmmaker Rodrigo Plá tells the story of a single mother, blue-collar worker Elena, and her nine-year-old son Tom. Living by themselves in the US, they rely on a thin public safety net to make ends meet, and their tight but fraught bond is pushed to the limit when the kid is hastily diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed psychiatric medication.
When Elena notices adverse reactions in Tom’s mood, she stops giving him the meds. Soon Tom’s erratic behaviour escalates and they’re faced with the painful possibility of him having to go into foster care. Elena’s difficulty in dealing with figures of authority — or recognizing the scarce signs of empathy they find along the way — compound Tom’s challenging attitude. But in the face of very few options, their trust in each other helps them find a way to reconnect and take on the uncertain road ahead.
The directors anchor the film in bold, tender performances by Julia Chávez and Israel Rodríguez Bertorelli, who thoroughly inhabit their strong-headed characters and the complex situations they face. Within an atmosphere of subdued realism, the story portrays the dangers of unchecked medical diagnosis and pill pushing, and presents a poignant take on the ways basic governmental systems fail the people who most depend on them.
Content advisory: accident trauma, mature themes