Review: In ‘I Am Another You,’ Eating From a Garbage Can for Her Art


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Dylan, a homeless man in Florida, is followed by a documentary filmmaker in “I Am Another You.”

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FilmRise

The documentary “I Am Another You” poses tricky questions about the relationship between filmmaker and subject, and maybe between filmmaker and audience. It begins when the director, Nanfu Wang (“Hooligan Sparrow”), meets a young, itinerant homeless man named Dylan in Florida and decides to tag along with him.

For Ms. Wang, who was raised in China, left that country in 2011 and now lives in New York, Dylan’s lifestyle represents a distinctly American form of freedom. (He calls it the “easiest life you can imagine.”) To her family in China, she narrates, “the idea that someone would choose to be homeless would be inconceivable.” And with a camera in tow, or sometimes in Dylan’s hands, she begins to live life his way. (“This was the first time I ate food from a garbage can,” she says in the film.) Dylan has a gift for making friends but seems to begrudge generosity, giving away money or selling food he has received.

His habit of shrugging off good-will changes Ms. Wang’s attitude, a boon for anyone wondering whether her methods constitute willful naïveté, particularly with regard to Dylan’s acknowledged past substance abuse and present drinking. Is this freedom or addiction? Initially, the film’s conceit appears to rest on not acknowledging the difference.

It’s unfair to reveal precisely where “I Am Another You” goes, but Ms. Wang delves further into Dylan’s past. If by the end she probably still puts too much trust in Dylan’s aphorisms, give her credit for recognizing the shortcomings of her footage and correcting course.

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