While there have been many great films to come out of the Sundance Film Festival this year, none really stood out to me as much as Aaron Schimberg’s “A Different Man.” The film follows a struggling actor named Edward, who, after undergoing an experimental facial reconstruction surgery, becomes fixated on an actor in a stage production of his former life. 

Schimberg’s screenplay touches on a lot of different themes, but the exploration of insecurity is the beating heart of the movie. His approach shows how insecurity can hold us back from achieving greatness while simultaneously depicting how it can transform someone into the worst version of themselves. 

The screenplay is masterful. Watching Edward slowly begin to drown in his insecurities is just horrifying as it is weirdly entertaining. Every story beat makes sense and feels earned and Edward’s downward spiral never once felt out of character. 

The way the world around Edward evolves and changes to almost mock him is incredibly well done and adds a lot of layers of tension to the film. For example, Edward spends a large portion of the film trying to shed his old identity because of how insecure it made him feel, but when a new character enters the picture with a very similar identity, he begins gaining the things Edward always wanted most. 

This cruel twist of fate only serves to add fuel to the protagonist’s downward spiral. The script is also unexpectedly funny. Incorporating humor into a film like this runs the risk of undercutting dramatic moments but here it never did. The humor instead serves to highlight the absurdity of the situation Edward finds himself in and never feels forced or unearned. 

Harrison Saini | Elon News Network

Director Aaron Schimberg and star Adam Pearson answer questions at the Sundance Film Festival about their new movie "A Different Man." This is the 40th year of film screenings held in Park City, Utah.

What keeps the film so engaging though, is the performances. Sebastain Stan’s performance as Edward is his best to date, topping his work in “The Martian,”I,Tonya” and the Marvel franchise. He nails everything from the line delivery to the subtle yet distinct body language of the character. His performance holds the movie together and elevates the material.

Accompanying Stan is Norwegian actress Renate Reinsve. After her work in “The Worst Person in The World” and now this, Reinsve is quickly solidifying herself as one of the best and most interesting rising stars. Her subtle performance does a lot to highlight the absurdity of what is happening to Edward and her chemistry with Stan and the rest of the cast is great. 

A surprise standout however is Adam Pearson as Oswald. Pearson is incredibly charismatic and funny and he steals every scene that he’s in. His charm is electrifying and I never once felt any animosity towards his character despite the fact that he is the foil to the protagonist. You might find yourself missing this character when he isn't on screen.

While there is much to love about Schimberg’s latest film, there are some drawbacks, especially when it comes to pacing. Most of the meat of the film comes in acts two and three with act one feeling a bit longer to get through. While it was never boring per se, it did feel like it could’ve moved a little faster to keep a more consistent pace. Though I love the ending, I also felt like the last twenty minutes or so were slightly dragged out which again hindered the film’s pace. 

Overall, Aaron Schimberg’s “A Different Man” delivers an incredible look at insecurity and jealousy. The film is filled with top-notch performance and a very well crafted script that perfectly balances dramatic moments with absurdist humor. Despite some minor pacing issues, “A Different Man” is excellent and well worth a watch.