Cullen (“Downton Abbey’s” Anthony Gillingham) is Nickie, a short-tempered waiter shown the restaurant’s door when he has a run in with a customer. Coming to his defense is aspiring painter Emily (Maslany), an outgoing young woman suffering from bipolar disease. The pair begin a relationship, sharing a deeply felt connection that weathers Nickie’s sudden rages and Emily’s descent into depression. When her condition spirals out of control her father Jacob (Henry Czerny), fearing for her safety opts to institutionalize his daughter. Months later the couple reunite, moving in together but old problems arise.
Director Joey Klein straightforwardly but sensitively portrays the couple’s travails with a combination of clever photography, sound design and careful scripting. Nickie’s alienation is brought to life with dreamlike audio and disorienting visual cues. Maslany brings a kinetic energy to Emily’s troubled state, emphasizing the self-destructive urges that rule her behaviour.
Both leads hand in remarkable performances. Maslany is external, physical in her work, Cullen all brooding and internal. Together they click, creating the emotional core of the film as they struggle to find a way to be together. “The Other Half” is a movie that never takes the easy way out and neither do the actors.