>>> Toronto-set The Other Half is wholly satisfying

Real-life couple Tom Cullen and Tatiana Maslany dig deeply into their troubled characters


THE OTHER HALF (Joey Klein). 103 minutes. Opens Friday (December 2). See listing. Rating: NNNN


Set unapologetically in Toronto – Queen West, to be specific – Joey Klein’s The Other Half is an intense romance starring real-life couple Tom Cullen and Tatiana Maslany as a haunted man and a bipolar woman who find refuge in each other.

It’s an impressionistic, experiential drama, situating us with its characters in bars and clubs and rooms and beds and letting us see how they are together as they find comfort and strength in each other’s broken places.

Yes, that sounds a little precious. But writer/director Klein and his stars aren’t aiming for twinkly manic-pixie redemption clichés they can’t be anything other than real.

Klein gives Cullen and Maslany the space to burrow deeply into their tormented characters and connect without much dialogue. And the trust they have in each other as performers is remarkable.

Cullen is quietly terrific as a man who’s spent so much time locking away his feelings that he’s overwhelmed by their resurgence, and Maslany is ferocious as the mercurial, unstable lover with whom he can find balance.

This is her Gena Rowlands moment, and I mean that in the best possible way. She’s always great, and Orphan Black regularly showcases her versatility, but The Other Half lets you see the full breadth of her talent in a single performance. And that is something to behold.

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