Saturday, 23 January 2010

STRANGERS IN GOOD COMPANY (CANADA/1990/CYNTHIA SCOTT)

Utilising what would constitute the most French of French film concepts, Cynthia Scott’s Strangers In Good Company sees a busload of old women abandoned in the middle of the Canadian countryside. Despite their worrying predicament, the group refuses to feel intimidated or concerned, instead turning misfortune into a wonderful day out. The women share life stories, sing songs together and snack on packed lunches as they take up residence in a similarly abandoned old cottage. The dialogues in the film take on a further dimension of poignancy when one learns that the actresses are essentially playing themselves, divulging their own personal histories and improvising much of the film’s plot.

If the preciousness of the premise alone has you cynically spitting feathers, it is most likely that there is little else in this film for you. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a film which donates generous screentime to elderly ladies nattering to each other to cause much excitement. However, after witnessing the women hoiking mattresses up a hill and gleefully discussing pornography in the first twenty minutes, it becomes clear that the film isn’t going to expend much time for morbidity or schmaltziness. The film has a positive message, and the women all seem to genuinely harmonise with one another, despite their diverse backgrounds. The cinematography too is lovely, fog surrounding the house as a deliberate emphasis on blurred boundaries and ethereal agelessness. It might appear tedious at first glance, but those who stay the course will be thoroughly rewarded.




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