It is estimated that something like seven million children in the United States suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This behavioural and mental disorder, characterised by bouts of excessive energy and often impulsive actions, affects around one in ten of all under-eighteens. While diagnosis is still an issue, treatment has become increasingly controversial; medical professionals often automatically prescribing drugs with major side-effects. The Other Tom tells one story.
Elena (Julia Chavez) is a working mother living in Southern America, struggling to bring up her boy Tom (Israel Rodriguez) while keeping the wolves from the door. Working any shifts she can take, but reliant on financial support to make ends meet. Her ability to do this is hindered by his increasingly erratic behaviour. Until he’s diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed medication. While this provides a much-needed respite, Elena starts to suspect these drugs are having a negative impact on her son.
The Other Tom is a moving film about a single mother wrestling with the mounting bureaucracy which threatens to tear them apart. What shines through Rodrigo Plá and Laura Santullo’s film is the love they have for each other, albeit in the most challenging circumstances. Both leads give pitch-perfect performances and the story remains thoroughly relatable throughout. The Other Tom is a taut family drama set to the backdrop of a culture of medicating the young.
The Other Tom screens at Toronto International Film Festival.