On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS (Starz Digital Media & Abramorama).
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MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS
By Joe Charnitski
At first glance, this idea of rivalry is at the center of the new documentary MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS. After a full viewing, though, this doc is about a lot more.
Matt Berninger is the lead singer of the indie rock treasure The National. He has decided to invite his younger, and certainly less successful brother, Tom, to join the band on tour as a roadie. He could probably use the work, so it’s a nice offer. Tom accepts but with two ulterior motives: 1) he’s an aspiring filmmaker and a documentary about his brother’s band sounds like a great project, and 2) he thinks he’s about to party and bond with Matt all around the world. Matt sees this tour as work, not play, and tries to make it clear to Tom that he too must take his roadie gig seriously.
The best way to describe the dynamic between the two brothers
Tom is such an unintentionally funny character to watch. His interview segments of the doc are terrible due to his rambling questions, if a question even exists in his stumbling speeches. His inability to focus and his adolescent point of view made it almost difficult to believe this was a pure documentary and not played up for the cameras. I don’t mean any of this as a criticism of the movie.
The movie is hilarious because of how bad Tom seems to be at making a doc and being a roadie, or an adult for that matter. If you were a Saturday Night Live fan in the 90’s, you’ll think of The Chris Farley Show, just like I did.
Besides his hot or cold relationship with his brother, it’s fascinating to watch other people’s reaction to Tom’s antics and questions. Some are amused. Some are annoyed. Some are probably polite because he’s Matt’s brother. Some are particularly put off by the apparent nepotism. It’s important to note, though, that Tom is not always in the wrong in the film. He calls his brother out on a little hypocrisy during a photo shoot on a beach. His complaints to some members of the band about Matt are met with knowing nods. There are definitely times when everyone on the road comes across as a little too indie rock pretentious when compared to Tom’s authenticity.
It might be because of this that I felt I could relate to each brother at different times in the movie, and when considering different times in my life. It’s not just their relationship that’s universal, it’s each of their experiences as men, brothers and artists.
Matt & Tom Berninger (MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS)
It made me root for each of them and both of them that much more. The film celebrates the artist and how they can turn the struggle of life, the strain of their own dreams, into art for all of us to consider. Matt and his band have produced some of the best rock of the past ten years. Tom has made one helluva documentary.
Our brothers may not all be rock stars,
but we all have someone in our lives that
shines a little brighter than the rest and
makes us feel like the roadie.
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS understands that. It is laugh-out-loud, might-want-to-pause-the-movie-to-catch-my-breath funny. It is also a sweet, sincere study of family, hopes, failures and resilience.
Joe Charnitski is a new contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. His career in film and television production, development and marketing has included stops at Miramax Films, Syfy and VH1. He currently works at a entertainment focused social media marketing agency in New York City. Twitter:@JoeCharnitski
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