Mistaken for Strangers

Mistaken for Strangers ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

The personal life lessons learned and applied in Mistaken for Strangers are universal. Director Tom Berninger set out to construct a “rock doc” and wound up making something else, something personal. By film’s end, Tom seems to begin focusing on the aspects of himself he does like, as a way to combat his depression, and devotes his energy into doing what he perceives to be his identity: filmmaking. He didn’t know what form the film would take, as much as people are uncertain of the turns their own lives will inevitably take. Tom begins the film, his own film, as an unemployed, mid-thirty-year-old living in his parent’s house and by its end is a mid-thirty-year-old filmmaker living in his brother’s house, with a new way of seeing the world.

His brother, Matt, and the relationship he has with Tom, is another focal point of the film. Tom must reconcile with the fact that his older brother is more successful than he is. Not just in superficial terms such as fame and wealth, but also in terms of having a wife and daughter, and the confidence to produce creative works. Tom loves Matt, but admits it sucks being his younger brother. How Tom reconciles with that, and embraces the relationship he shares with Matt, aids the execution in his own life.

Don’t be mistaken; Mistaken for Strangers isn’t a documentary about The National. It’s about how one man escapes living life in its shadow. It has comedy, music, frankness, melancholy, and hope. It’s like life in that way, Tom’s or our own.