“A Different Man”, Beauty Is on the Inside

In Film & Series 20 February, 2024

Eva Peydró

Eva Peydró


In A Different Man, which reaches the official competition at the 74th Berlinale after having had its world premiere at the last Sundance Film Festival, Aaron Schimberg returns to the theme of his last film, Chained for Life (2018), and once again features the striking presence of Adam Pearson (Oswald). The actor, who suffers from neurofibromatosis in real life, delivers an immediately beguiling performance and is joined in the cast by Sebastian Stan (Edward) and Renate Reinsve (Ingrid) in a story that satirically debates normality and the aesthetically normative. With a 1970s indie aesthetic that is at once 70s and fresh, A Different Man dares to laugh at what makes us uncomfortable, presenting situations in which it confronts the bravery and different attitude of its characters in the face of the same question, their appearance outside the norm.

A Different Man

Self-conscious and embarrassed by his face, which seems to have been molded to frighten others, Edward decides to undergo an experimental aesthetic treatment that transforms him into the kind of man he wants to be. The various aspects of the subject emerge and multiply throughout the film: the attraction and repulsion of a certain physical appearance, the expectations of change, identity-based on the image we project, whether it is reflected in the mirror or displayed by our personality, as well as success and the means that lead to it. Aaron Schimberg draws on gore, absurdity, parody, and even Woody Allen, in his maddeningly dynamic story, unafraid of impropriety. A Different Man is a treatise on insecurity, which also efficiently exploits the ambiguity with which Reinsve plays Ingrid, somewhere between candid and bitchy, perfect in tone and her fitting into the puzzle of characters and emotions, without ever losing the lightness and effortlessness that dazzled in The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier, 2021).

The work of make-up artist Michael Marino (Oscar-nominated for The Batman), who created the prosthetics used in the film, is outstanding, so much so that we will not reveal the details here, and the soundtrack by Umberto Smerilli is perfectly evocative of the atmosphere that Schimberg wanted to create.

Sebastian Stan was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance at the 74th Berlinale.

Information was updated on 24 February 2024.

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74th BerlinaleA Different ManMichael MarinoRenate ReinsveSebastian StanAdam Pearson

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