Mistaken For Strangers
This article was originally published in FilmInk magazine
Like the Banksy-themed Exit Through The Gift Shop, Mistaken for Strangers puts an affable layabout behind a camera and has him film a notable proponent of pop culture. In this case, the proponent, Tom Berninger, just happens to be the layabout's older brother, lead singer of The National, Matt Berninger. Tom doesn't class himself in the same creative league as his brother - his only endeavours being a couple of homemade horror films - and their dynamic proves a refreshingly fun focal point for a music documentary. Watching Tom bumble about the press circuit on one of the major musical tours of 2010 is a joy. He's both hilarious and oblivious, fumbling through haphazard interviews with the band and their tour manager. Tom (eventually) leaps at the project with endearing enthusiasm, using the film as a vehicle to explore his increasingly unstable relationship with his brother. Their bond has been marred by the lashings of fame Matt has earned - Tom isn't always held in high-esteem and Matt constantly berates him for his all-rounded clumsiness. [[MORE]]While this could prove tonally problematic in a film this flippant, Tom never slips into self-righteous postulating and the film does graciously steer clear of unwarranted sentimentality through its genuine sense of humour. It's a film within a film, evoking almost This isSpinal Tap level mockumentary, rather than straight-up rock documentary. At times it seems hard to believe the events actually took place - they're full of such wonderfully crisp and coherent moments of comedy and introspection. It's a unique portrait of a band thrust into international fame and the brotherly bond proves a solid emotional core. The film would be ineffectual to those unaware of the band, but for fans it's a rollicking and honest portrait of one of the biggest rock acts in recent years.