Almost Strangers (2001)
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Critic Reviews for Almost Strangers
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Audience Reviews for Almost Strangers
The BBC makes movies, but they don't always do very well at them, at least in this sorry excuse for a film. Very pretentious, grand scale film about a family reunion. We know nothing about who bought and paid for the reunion, except that the name is Ernest ( Hemmingway?, no, we are not told). Ok, we are supposed to buy that this Ernest buys a few days at one of the most expensive hotels in London for extended family to reunite. The only problem is that it is over the top, ridiculous in the supreme, and a cooked up mystery that I, at least, could not understand. As you no doubt read in my last blog about what makes a movie good or evern great, one of the key elements is understanding. Do we get it? Not this one. This is a long, long drama and I did not comprehend it. You may understand the plot, but not me. It had most every element of a good film, but the story really was beyond comprehension. Starring Michael Gambon, Matthew MacFadyen, Lindsay Duncan Director Stephen Poliakoff Screenwriter Stephen Poliakoff
This film is an extraordinary, monumental accomplishment. It was shown in Britain on BBC as a miniseries (titled "Perfect Strangers" and changed for USA release because of the TV show conflicting name). BBC America broadcast the film in 2001 when that cable channel was not broadly available and shame on BBC for not showing it more recently and for not promoting it! As far as I can determine, only the San Francisco Chronicle has printed anything substantive on this film so shame on American critics, too, for ignoring this excellent work. You'll need to set aside a couple of nights because the film runs about 240 minutes. Written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff, "Almost Strangers" recounts the history of a family's secrets over several generations, which unfold at a reunion that brings together familiar family members and those who've been estranged. A family historian has gathered information and images that often are revelations, with roots from Nazi Germany to all over the U.K. The acting is superb -- with excellent work by Michael Gambon, Lindsay Duncan, Matthew Macfayden, Jill Baker and Timothy Spall, to name just a few. For me, this ranks among the top ten films ever created.
For a movie whose primary romantic plot line revolves around shagging one's cousin, I was strangely onboard. Tries to advance the idea that one should be interested in one's family members (albeit some sexually...wtf), and it almost got me to buy in. Some advice: scrap the incest plot line and shape Matthew MacFadyen's back. Guh.
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