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Tom Behringer's "Mistaken For Strangers" Reviewed

Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love

I have never found the comedy of embarrassment, of humiliation, very much fun. I empathize with the person being humiliated too much to get any kicks from it, and I can’t watch it. And unfortunately, this on the road documentary directed by the National’s lead singers brother, is squirmy wirmy humiliation.

Tom Berninger is the slacker brother of Matt Berninger, debonair and brooding crooner with indie darlings the national. For some insane reason, Matt invites Tom to help on their world tour as a roadie. A position is completely unfit for, screwing up bare essential, waters and towels for the stage and missing the tour bus. On top of which Tom has decided to make a documentary about the tour and slowly and tortuous drives everybody crazy. The result is “Mistaken For Strangers” –a rok band documentary that isn’t really about a rock band.

It’s been suggested the movie was faked and to a degree it sure serves Matt  because he comes across as the sweetest and most reasonable big brother on the planet, trying to express the limits of his stardom and also the limitless of his affection for his uncomfortably jealous little brother.

You would have to have a lot more interest in either brother to really enjoy this movie and I just can’t  watch Tom being fired as the roadie, or dressed down by the tour manager, or rudely questioned by the band manager, even though Tom certainly deserves it.

There is something about the director that is so socially awkward it feels a little like a put on, except I don’t believe Matt’s furious worry for his brother at one point could be feigned.

Tom isn’t much of a winner or a loser, in his early 30s and still living with his parents, an unfortunate career as a director of B Movies in his rearview mirror, he seems a little loss but a little young as well. Tom’s problem is his big brother is a rock star and Tom is so far in his brother’s shadow that nobody can quite see him at all.

Even Tom doesn’t have a handle on himself; everything is in comparison too,

What Tom doesn’t get, maybe because Matt is busy getting his picture taken with President Obama, is that Matt is also only the lead singer with a rock and roll band. There is something self knowing about Matt, he seems to have his sense of proportion which makes his brother’s pain even more poignant.

But it doesn’t work as a movie about the National and it Tom isn’t interesting enough to center it on himself. It is a painful movie.

Grade: B-

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