Adam Pearson delivers a standout performance in the quirky Doppelganger tale, A Different Man.

Adam Pearson delivers a standout performance in the quirky Doppelganger tale, A Different Man.


Aaron Schimberg, the writer and director, has crafted a clever and artificial film that serves as a satirical commentary on the personas we present to others. While it may not fully convey its intended message, it does offer an intriguing performance by Adam Pearson (known for his role in Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin”) and draws comparisons to Woody Allen’s early works. With its gripping plot and thought-provoking themes, it is reminiscent of Schimberg’s previous film, “Chained For Life.”

The setting is a dark and dingy New York City, where Edward (Sebastian Stan) is a would-be actor with a craniofacial condition who so far has only got work in an instructional video for corporations about how to treat co-workers with craniofacial conditions. Poor Edward is shy and nervous (his neighbour says he’s like Woody Allen) and Reinate Reinsve has the Annie Hall role as Ingrid, the quirky-beautiful next-door neighbour who is kind to him.

After undergoing transformative surgery to improve his looks, Edward’s life takes a dramatic turn as he assumes a new identity. However, when he learns that Ingrid is writing a play about their friendship, he insists on playing the lead role while wearing a mask of his previous appearance. The introduction of Oswald, a charming and self-assured British man with the same facial condition as Edward before his surgery, complicates things. Despite being a huge admirer of Ingrid’s work, Oswald has no desire to change his appearance. His confidence and contentment pose a threat to Edward as they resemble each other in more ways than one.

The complex and strange nature of the narrative requires just as much focus and belief from the audience as any other element on screen. However, Schimberg’s film stands out by rejecting typical horror cliches that others might rely on. The character of Pearson carries himself with a carefree ease that is not seen in any other character, giving him room to be talkative and expressive in a way that is denied to everyone else. This creates a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere, yet it is also courageous. The film’s tone and message cannot be easily defined.