Mistaken For Strangers
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Mistaken For Strangers

A look at two very different brothers—one famous, one not—and the family ties that hold them together.

stars 3andahalf9


Tuesday, April 30, 9:30 p.m.
The Royal Cinema (608 College Street)

Thursday, May 2, 11:59 p.m.
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)

Sunday, May 5, 4 p.m.
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)

The National is a band made up of two sets of brothers, plus its lead singer, Matt Berninger. The thing is, Matt has a brother of his own: Tom Berninger, who is nine years younger. Tom is the metalhead and horror fan to Matt’s Brooklyn dad and indie-rock singer.

When the elder Berninger’s band blew up with the release of The National’s High Violet, he invited Tom to come on tour with him as part of the band’s road crew. Tom saw it as the perfect opportunity to make a “rockumentary,” but quickly discovered that the band was less sex and drugs and more “coffee house,” as he puts it. And The National find out that Tom is kind of…annoying. Mistaken For Strangers, the resulting film, lacks direction at times, but things improve once it becomes apparent that the story isn’t so much about the band. In truth, it’s about two very different brothers: one dealing with more fame than he ever expected, and the other coping with a near-total lack of success.

Mistaken starts slowly, but finds its heart once the band is off the road and Tom is crashing in Matt’s daughter’s playroom. The film is not pure documentary—there are several amusing scenes where Tom instructs a band member to pose for a set-up shot—but its depiction of the struggles associated with finding oneself in the shadow of a golden son feel real.

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