Mistaken For Strangers review

July 10, 2014, Article by Tom in Film & TV, Reviews

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of The National. Each of their six studio albums have been widely praised by critics and fans alike, and they have a reputation as one of the finest live acts on the planet. They seem like pretty sound guys too. But what would it be like to join them on tour as a roadie? To work as part of their crew, day in day out, in cities across the world? And what if you were actually there to make a documentary about them? Oh, and you were also the frontman’s brother?

That’s the premise behind Mistaken For Strangers, a music documentary film by Tom Berninger, the younger brother of singer Matt . Hilarious, insightful and often quite moving, it shows the band on their 2010-11 High Violet world tour and the often strained relationship between the siblings.

Tom and Matt Berninger (© Dogwoof)

Tom and Matt Berninger (© Dogwoof)

As the rest of The National are comprised of brothers (drummer Bryan and bassist Scott Devendorf, and twin guitarists Aaron and Bryce Dessner), bringing Tom along to help out and make his film initially seems like a great idea, allowing a notorious underacheiver to finally complete a project and escape the shadows of his famous and successful older brother.

However, adding this extra element to the mix causes Matt some headaches, as Tom’s shambolic attempts at organisation, his bizarre interviewing technique and over enthusiasm for partying leads to tension with the band’s management.

Far more than just a tour documentary, it’s a study in family and differing levels of success. Matt’s the star of the Berninger household; adored by critics and fans alike. Tom is a 30+ guy who doesn’t even own any plates, and doesn’t want a girlfriend as he doesn’t feel he has the right clothes to wear on a date. But the project brings them together in a way that is both poignant and amusing.

Whilst some scenes may feel a little staged, on the whole this is a fascinating portrait of a band on the road, and some of the live footage is excellent. Despite Tom’s somewhat unorthodox style, it’s beautifully put together, making Mistaken For Strangers well worth a watch, even if you aren’t a huge fan of the band.


Mistake For Strangers is out now on DVD and on demand. Watch the trailer:

Find out more about the film here: dogwoof.com/mistakenforstrangers