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CANNES 2024 Directors’ Fortnight

Review: The Other Way Around


- CANNES 2024: Jonás Trueba makes another solid and watchable romantic film by zooming in on a couple celebrating their break-up with a divorce party

Review: The Other Way Around
Vito Sanz and Itsaso Arana in The Other Way Around

One thing we know about Spanish director Jonás Trueba is that he can be trusted to make a romantic film. His work since his 2010 directorial debut, Every Song Is About Me [+see also:
film profile
, up until his newest offering in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, The Other Way Around (which won the Europa Cinemas Label - see the news), has explored relationship dynamics through a naturalistic lens and in a light-hearted tone, even when things get pretty dire for a couple. In his latest film, co-written with his main actors, we meet a couple in the process of getting divorced after spending 15 years together: Ale (Itsaso Arana) and Alex (Vito Sanz) know each other inside out and still share the same bed. From its very beginning, The Other Way Around invites you into their affectionate routines, which now have to be reformulated – who makes the coffee, who works in the living room, splitting the English tutorial they used to share – without an ounce of animosity between them.

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It’s not that Trueba imagines divorce as smooth sailing or an abstraction that just holds the plot together. Ale and Alex, whose twinned names suggest they are more enmeshed than the film lets on, see their separation as a mutual decision and one for the best. But what they decide to do resembles the unconventional practice of “conscious uncoupling”, where two partners work towards an amicable separation, with one exception. This is also the plot’s main conceit – namely, that the two are planning a big divorce party: in size and formality, it resembles a wedding, but in a way, it’s just the opposite. One should celebrate break-ups, they say, perhaps even more so than the beginning of a marriage.

While this is a funny and provocative statement, Trueba and his co-writers present us with lively and relatable characters as they learn to navigate their solo lives while being under the same roof and objectively enjoying each other’s company. There is no room for artificial niceties in this film, a trait so rare for rom-coms that start with a break-up; in fact, the movie uses that naturalism to its advantage when introducing a meta-narrative where Ale is making a film with Alex as a lead. Occasionally, sequences play out a second time as a playful reminder that there is a film within the film, yet it never feels invasive or trite in the moment. Thanks to the editing work of Marta Velasco (Trueba’s frequent collaborator), the movie can absorb these two layers of reality with elegance and ease to fit its free-flowing tonal range of jokes and hard relationship truths. By striking a good balance between sweet and salty aftertastes, The Other Way Around certainly testifies to the fact that Trueba really cares about his characters and makes sure they never let love down.

The Other Way Around was produced by Los Ilusos Films (Spain), and co-produced by France’s Les Films du Worso and ARTE France Cinéma. Memento International handles the film’s sales.

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