Mistaken For Strangers, Tom Berninger 2013
By Ali Tenenbaum
A film about being who you are, sibling rivalry and self–loathing, with a side-order of a band called The National. Tom Berninger is the brother of The National’s lead singer and is hired by the band as a roadie. He brings a camera along for the ride with the idea of making a rockumentary, though most of the screen time features the filmmaker in various stages of buffoonery. The result is raw, unprocessed and amateurish – in a good way. Tom portrays himself as an immature ne’er-do-well, a train wreck with fleeting moments of artistic talent. You flip flop between feeling sorry for him and wanting to slap him. He is a compelling anti-hero – the only thing Tom is famous for, it turns out, is quitting things (until now). His “character” does have an arc, albeit a subtle one.
Tom’s struggle to cull together the footage for his film is palpable, sometimes it seems like it's the first time he has ever picked up a camera. He often tries for humor - mockumentary style - that never quite gets off the ground. This autobiographical tale only scratches the surface of what darkness clearly lies within the Cincinnati Berningers.
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