© NEUE VISIONEN Filmverleih GmbH

Mistaken for Strangers
U.S.A. 2013

Opening 10 Jul 2014

Directed by: Tom Berninger
Writing credits:

What’s it like growing up with a famous lead singer? Tom Berninger takes on the challenge while he reflects that he, too, can be just as creative as his brother. In the past, he has made horror B-films as well as action short films. He can’t help it that his brother is doing so well with this Indie rock, since Tom’s heart is with heavy metal. He is single and living at home. Basically a hopeless case sinking into the mire, but his famous brother Matt decides to act and get him involved in the band. He gives him a job and invites him to go on tour with them, but filling the job description seems to be a problem to Tom. He is much more interested in filming the tour and interviewing the band, which includes his brother as well as two sets of brothers. Does Tom feel left out because of that? At least that seems to motivate him to find out more about what they think about him and his brother.

Besides giving a general history of the band, he dissects his relationship to his brother and then dives even further into himself, trying to solve his own insecurities as well as his inability to finish anything. This is a wonderful band documentary, which not only includes factual information about the band The National but also the inside view of the personalities of those who make up the band. This sibling rivalry is something that most of us could relate to on some level, and it is done in such a humorous and heartwarming way that we see how their relationship grows during this intense time spent together.

Second Opinion by Becky Tan

The indie rock band, The National, played live in Hamburg’s Stadtpark last month (June 2014). If you missed this quintet’s first Hamburg performance since 2010, don’t worry. See the documentary about their lives; enjoy their music on screen. Nicknamed “band of brothers” Aaron and Bryce Dessner play guitar/keyboards and compose the music. Scott and Bryan Devendorf play bass and drums respectively. Lead singer is Matt Berninger; he has a habit of jumping from the stage and wandering through the audience while singing (something which drove the sound engineers crazy in Hamburg). Nine years younger than his brother Matt, Tom tagged along for eight months on tour to Krakow, Los Angeles, New York, London and back to Prospect Park in Brooklyn NY, where the musicians live, although they are originally from Ohio. He was officially hired as a roadie and assistant manager. Tom Berninger filmed throughout the tour and then realized the concept of the film, including script ideas and direction. He takes us to visit the Berninger parents, Paul and Nancy, who comment on the differences between their sons’ personalities. Matt is straight-forward and proper and could pass for a college professor. Tom is chunky, rebellious, and complains. He always seems to be trying to keep up with his big brother. Naturally, that could be an act to make the film more interesting, although Tom goes overboard so often, it’s believable that he is truly an immature brat. On the other hand, after watching this satisfactory film about musicians in action, it’s hard to believe that anything less than hard work could have made it happen, no matter how flaky Tom might appear. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)

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