Film Review: Mistaken for Strangers


It does not matter if viewers have no interest in the band The National, as Mistaken for Strangers is a thoroughly entertaining film.

In 2010 US band The National are going on their biggest ever tour. Needing extra help, lead singer Matt Berninger invites his younger brother Tom to join them as a tour assistant. Tom uses the opportunity to make a film…

Mistaken for Strangers is an unusual film in that the documentary’s director is also the dominant focus. Under the guise of a ‘band on tour’ documentary, Mistaken for Strangers is actually a more interesting, entertaining and reflective film than the premise would suggest.

The film simply would not work without the endearing personality of Tom. He is an engaging character; both enthusiastic and unconfident, it is difficult not to be charmed by him.

Mistaken for Strangers does follow the band on tour. However, what dominates is the relationship between Tom and his older brother Matt. The dynamic between the two brothers is something most siblings will be able to identify with. As the underdog, it is not difficult to empathise with Tom. Being in the shadow of his more successful older sibling entails that even when he makes errors they are more forgivable.

Tom Berninger’s film generates a lot of laughs. However, as Mistaken for  Strangers progresses, the reflection required by the filmmaker increases. The film really serves as a vessel for Tom to reconcile his feelings towards his brother’s success and to complete something of his own.

Mistaken for Strangers is a warm and amusing film which should leave viewers with smiles on their faces.

Mistaken for Strangers is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.