Mistaken for Strangers is an accidental crowd-pleaser that is alternately hilarious, pathetic and in the end profound as it shares insights into sibling rivalry, fame, and self-redemption.
Matt, the lead singer of the critically acclaimed rock band The National, finally finds himself flush with success. His younger brother Tom is a loveable slacker – a filmmaker and metal-head still living with his parents in Cincinnati. On the eve of The National’s biggest tour to date, Matt invites Tom to work for the band as a roadie, unaware of Tom’s plan to film the entire adventure.
Mistaken for Strangers started out as a behind-the-scenes tour documentary filmed by Matt’s younger brother Tom, but eventually shifts its focus to the two brothers. There are shots of the band on stage, but most of it is candid footage as Tom navigates his brother’s world.
What followed is an honest look at fraternal bonds as Tom struggles to fit in and deal with the pervading reality in his life. As a metal head he doesn’t get the crazy-free indie vibe of his brother’s band. As the affable slacker he’s always been the loser of the family next to the golden boy now rock star brother Matt.
The documentary is alternately hilarious and pathetic as Tom tries to do his job (but just gets in the way) while filming (which he has no clear vision for) the tour. But in the process he realizes that he has to accept that he will always be in the fringes of his brother’s shadow and find his own worth.
Mistaken for Strangers looks more like a home movie rather than a rock documentary. It doesn’t have much about the band as the members get dragged in as Tom deals with his personal issues. But along the way, the documentary proves to be touching, inspiring, and surprisingly have more depth than its creator probably intended. You don’t need to be a fan to enjoy it.
My Rating: 8/10