Me and My Left Brain
Alex Lykos, Malcolm Kennard, Rachael Beck, Chantelle Berry
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[Malcolm] Kennard plays Left Brain with the joyous swagger of someone who cares for their dweeby little human but finds frustration in their Woody Allen-esque pontification.
Biology fact: The left hemisphere of the brain controls the right of the body. It is the part of the brain that deals with analytic thought, logic and reasoning. And it’s also known for having a goatee, wearing sunnies and wrist full of bracelets. At least that’s how it is in Me and My Left Brain, the latest from aussie filmmaker Alex Lykos (Alex and Eve).
Lykos plays Arthur, a man who gave up a cushy job so he could pursue his dream of being an actor. His success appears to be fair to middling with Arthur carving out a career for himself in independent theatre. However, when an audition call is made for a higher profile project, Arthur decides he needs to put himself out there. Wanting to have an early night before the big day, Arthur instead begins to obsess about his relationship with his friend, Helen (Chantelle Berry), and starts spiralling down a rabbit hole of past memories.
That right there is enough to fill up your average indie, but Lykos goes a couple of steps further by having Arthur air out his insecurities and panic to the personification of his Left Brain, played by Malcolm Kennard (Catching Milat). Cutting magic realism off at the pass, Me and My Left Brain doesn’t rely on a Drop Dead Fred scenario wherein Left Brain becomes a real boy and gets up to ‘shenanigans’. No, Left Brain is just an average part of Arthur’s life; a roommate who doesn’t need a lot of maintenance.
Kennard plays Left Brain with the joyous swagger of someone who cares for their dweeby little human but finds frustration in their Woody Allen-esque pontification. When Arthur bumps into friends who have done better than him, Left Brain is on hand to hurl abuse at them on behalf of Arthur, who can only be meekly polite.
As the night wears on, the two men – one man and a lobe? – bicker about whether Helen was much more than a friend whilst buying milk, watching pornography and pretty much anything else that isn’t going to get him a good night’s sleep before the Big Day.
Me and Left Brain could easily jack-knife into bro-ish, friend zone lamenting, clap trap where ‘women just don’t get it, man’, but avoids it by Left Brain skewering Arthur’s obsessive nature. As memories are rehashed via flashbacks, Helen is never made out to be flirt or a tease; she’s a fully rounded human who isn’t as easy to read as she would be in other rom-coms.
Lykos and Kennard play off each other well, but so too does Lykos with his other co-star Rachael Beck, who portrays Arthur’s best friend, fellow actor Vivien.
At times, however, Me and My Left Brain is too theatrical in its execution and begs for more of a flourish to separate present day Arthur from his night time worries. With Left Brain cutting down Arthur’s worry, it feels like there was a missed opportunity for a Rashomon effect, where we see events from the logical lobe. Additionally, the film’s conclusion, despite its obvious charm feels like we’ve spent so long with Arthur’s head that we now need to rush towards the end credits.
Overall, for anyone who has ever experienced that late-night self-doubt that blossoms into insomnia and anxiety, Me and My Left Brain will be immediately relatable. Through his snappy dialogue, Lykos captures that never-ending circle of a thought process where you manage to put something to bed before a fresh new detail arrives on the scene to unpick everything.