Movie Review: ‘Mistaken for Strangers’ Looks Into The National And Family Struggles

Mistaken for Strangers,” 75 min.
Stars: , , , , and

Rating: 4/5

Mistaken for Strangers,” which opened the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, follows Tom Berninger, an idler and aspiring horror filmmaker whose older brother, Matt, is the lead singer of one of the most notable indie rock bands— The National.

When Matt hires Tom as a roadie for the band’s 2010 High Violet world tour, Tom takes his camera to film the entire experience, pushing aside his job responsibilities in the process. But what follows is more than just your standard “about a band” doc.

While “Mistaken for Strangers” does lead us inside The National, it’s also an entertaining and affecting tale that explores the often unspoken dynamics of family.


Matt and Tom are two men who would most likely have nothing to do with one another if they were not related, but it’s their opposite personalities and frequent disputes that really makes this a mesmerizing film. Their relationship is filled with complications of all sorts of highs and lows, such as clashes of desires, compassion and love.

Though many will first rush to their DVRs or iTunes accounts to watch the flick because it has become recognized as “that one documentary about The National,” what lies underneath is something much more appealing and complex. It’s a band profile, but it’s also a story of one man’s struggling ambition to be seen.

The film is essential viewing not only for fans of The National, but non-fans and those who are dealing with their own life battles.

“Mistaken for Strangers” will be available on iTunes and VOD on Friday.

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Previously published on

Center Photo: Tom and Matt Berninger star in the rock-doc “Mistaken for Strangers.” Photo courtesy of Starz Digital Media and Falco Ink.

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