The Other Side of the Underneath Femspectives Review

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The Other Side of the Underneath: A Harrowing and Cathartic Cinematic Experience

In the world of experimental and challenging cinema, The Other Side of the Underneath stands as a pinnacle of unmitigated horror and anguish. Directed by Jane Arden, this film delves into the depths of the human psyche, presenting a demanding and confrontational narrative that immerses viewers in a surreal and unsettling journey. While not for the faint of heart, The Other Side of the Underneath offers a unique and cathartic experience that leaves a lasting impact.

A Collaborative Effort

The Other Side of the Underneath was the brainchild of Jane Arden, who heavily collaborated with her all-women theater group named “Holocaust.” Many of the actresses in the film were members of this group, and their performances were a result of improvisation, performance art, group therapy sessions led by Arden herself, and deliberate drug experiences. The abstract narrative of the film emerges from this multi-faceted creative process, resulting in a poetic exploration of schizophrenia that relies heavily on symbolism and allegory rather than traditional storytelling techniques.

A Glimpse into Schizophrenia

The film takes us on a tumultuous journey through the experiences of a young woman living with schizophrenia. Blurring the lines between reality and the unreal, Arden immerses the audience in the protagonist’s perspective, where every sight and sound carries equal weight and validity. Sally Minford’s evocative score further enhances this immersion, bridging the gap between the diegetic and non-diegetic realms to mirror the character’s innermost emotions.

The Other Side of the Underneath challenges societal norms and explores the roots of rage and anguish that permeate the film. It serves as a poignant cry for empathy within a broken and patriarchal system, shedding light on the demonization of women, the dismissal of their mental health struggles, and the oppressive control exerted over their bodies. Through evocative imagery, such as depictions of menstruation, broken mirrors, crucifixes, marriage, and funerals, Arden prompts introspection, revealing how societal constructs shape individuals and their experiences. Additionally, the film raises profound questions about whether psychosis may arise, at least in part, from a lifetime of oppression and objectification.

The Unyielding Journey

At a runtime of an hour and fifty minutes, The Other Side of the Underneath may test the patience of some viewers. The final thirty-five minutes, in particular, meander and might feel overly long. However, these moments lead to a surprisingly incendiary and cathartic finale, offering a release of tension and a resolution of some thematic threads. Arden’s affiliation with the anti-psychiatry movement informs her perspective in the film, but its surreal nature allows for multiple interpretations. Ultimately, The Other Side of the Underneath stands as an underseen and undeniable achievement in feminist filmmaking, with its unrestrained and deeply personal exploration of the yearning for equality and recognition of one’s humanity.

A Cinematic Gem at Femspectives Film Festival

The Other Side of the Underneath will be showcased at Femspectives, the renowned feminist film festival held annually in Glasgow. This year, the festival takes on a new format, hosting an Online Festival Weekender from April 23rd to April 25th, 2021. Don’t miss the chance to experience this remarkable film and explore its thought-provoking themes. Visit the Femspectives website for ticket information and join us in celebrating feminist cinema.


The Other Side of the Underneath is not a film for the faint-hearted. It challenges viewers with its abrasive and unsettling exploration of schizophrenia, delivered through surreal imagery and dissonant sound design. Jane Arden’s collaborative approach with the “Holocaust” theater group results in a work that defies conventional storytelling, opting for poetic symbolism and allegory. While the film’s length and meandering moments may test one’s patience, its cathartic finale and powerful feminist message make it an exemplary achievement in experimental cinema. Witness the raw power of The Other Side of the Underneath at the upcoming Femspectives Film Festival and embark on a cinematic journey like no other.


1. Is The Other Side of the Underneath based on a true story?

No, The Other Side of the Underneath is not based on any specific true story. However, it draws inspiration from real-life experiences and serves as a profound exploration of schizophrenia and the effects of societal oppression.

2. Why is The Other Side of the Underneath considered a feminist film?

The Other Side of the Underneath is deemed a feminist film because it addresses themes of patriarchal control, the objectification of women, and the dismissal of their mental health struggles. It offers a searing critique of societal norms and serves as a call for empathy and equality.

3. How can I watch The Other Side of the Underneath?

The Other Side of the Underneath will be screened at the Femspectives Film Festival’s Online Festival Weekender. You can purchase tickets and access the film through the festival’s website. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience this thought-provoking and powerful cinematic work.

4. Is The Other Side of the Underneath suitable for all audiences?

No, The Other Side of the Underneath is not suitable for all audiences. Its challenging and confrontational nature, along with its disturbing imagery and intense themes, make it more suitable for mature viewers who appreciate experimental and thought-provoking cinema.

5. How does The Other Side of the Underneath contribute to the feminist film movement?

The Other Side of the Underneath stands as an embodiment of feminist filmmaking by highlighting the struggles faced by women, particularly regarding mental health and societal oppression. Its unapologetic and personal exploration of these themes adds a significant contribution to the broader feminist film movement.