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I don't know where you'll ever find another film quite like STRANGERS IN
GOOD COMPANY (or The Company Of Strangers, as the title appears on the DVD).
If you want more from a movie than action, special effects and cliche
situations and characters, are willing to be just a bit patient (as life
sometimes requires) and, most importantly, understand that every human being
is interesting in their own way and has their own story to tell, this film
will reward you generously.
Eight women - all senior citizens, except for the driver - are on a small bus traveling through the Canadian countryside. We don't know who they are, or where they're going (though the production notes on the DVD explain it), except that they're making a small detour to see the lakeside cottage at which one of them spent summers in her youth, when the bus breaks down and strands them.
As they set about dealing with their predicament, we come to know these women, and learn that each is a survivor of one or more cruel blows: major calamities such as the Blitz, a bad marriage or the death of a child, or the more quiet calamity of illness and the alienation that can come with old age. To put it another way: life. Mind you, these are not tragic, "damaged" people; it's just that they've experienced the range of ups and downs that any full life contains, and therefore assess their situation as not much more than a temporary inconvenience, coping with it in the most practical of manners: attempting to repair the bus, seeking shelter and food, making sleeping arrangements and, yes, even entertaining themselves and each other, until help can arrive or be found.
In the purest sense, this film is about surviving, and living, which can often be two different things. If there is a "message" here, it's embodied in the moment when several of the women gather on the porch of the abandoned house in which they've taken refuge and, both as a call to anyone who might be within earshot, and as a personal affirmation, shout into the wilderness, "We're here....we're alive!"
The characters and their interaction are so genuine and moving, the effect is almost startling. In the midst of idle chit-chat during a mundane task such as picking berries, long-harbored and deeply felt pain can be revealed and shared and, within moments, the small talk is resumed. This is, of course, not the way such things are handled in major studio movies, but it is the way they often happen in real life, and this - along with the 110% believability of the performances - is what gives these scenes their power.
Both the film and the characters are at once open yet enigmatic. This is not the geriatric version of The Big Chill; questions are left unanswered and issues remain unresolved. Without standard contrived crises and manufactured conflict, what this film delivers is so fascinating simply because it's so real. If you possess even half a brain and an ounce of sensitivity, I can't imagine your finding this group of women anything but the very best of good company.
I have always found the lives of women to be more interesting than that of men. They are emotionally stronger, have more depth. And this film confirms my belief. I wish I each of the women were my personal friend. It's hard to believe they are all first time actors. They are all so natural. Constance conveyed more with her silence than any actor I have seen on screen with a million words. A beautifully made film. Terrific photography of the Canadian countryside, haunting music, superb acting. The film's more like a documentary. I wish there were more personal information on the Net on each of the actors, including their addresses so I could write and tell them how much they have touched my life through this film. Thank you everyone who was involved in the making of "Strangers In Good Company".
If you're looking for flashy, special effects, don't touch this one at the
video store. If you're looking for a film to move you, touch you, and leave
you forever changed, grab this one and run home to put it in the VCR
(couldn't find it on DVD). This movie totally blew me away. The
"actresses" are unbelievably real and true to their persons. I love film
making like this.
The "realness" and the natural beauty of this film will stay with you long after the final scene. Superb casting of these fine women. Beautiful scenery. Wonderful interaction. I can't say enough great things about this wonderful film! I loved it! Rent it when you want to feel good about life...........
You know, improv in a movie can either work beautifully, or fall spectacularly. I am truly astounded at a movie such as "Company Of Strangers" with a company of seniors that have very little or no acting experience just NAILING their marks in this wonderfully simple story about a group of old people (or, as the director has stated, a group of people that happen to be old) whose bus breaks down on their way to the meeting, and take refuge in a on their way to the meeting, and take refuge in a run down country house. While they are waiting for their bus to get fixed, they sit down and talk with each other about each other, their lives , loves and tribulations. AND THAT'S THE WHOLE MOVIE!! Does it work? You bet it does. Each of these characters are just so interesting and so human like. Well, they must be, as the director, Cynthia Roberts just essentially took stories from their lives and weaved it into the story, thus you have the wonderful lesbian story, the tragic story of one of the women losing their son, and how one's calling as a nun affected her later life. These are all wonderful stories, and the ladies reactions to each other's tales just is amazing. This is really a remarkable movie, you probably haven't seen anything like this, so do yourself a favor and do.
Older women, such as those portrayed in this movie, seem to possess the
ability to look at life through eyes that ring true. That is, their
laughter seems more real, their tears more purposeful and deserving. And,
their ability to enjoy the wonders of nature is priceless and rewarding to
those that get to observe their observations of life.
I loved each and every character in this wonderful story.
This is a wonderfully worthwhile film. Anyone interested in the lives of women should watch this. The story was entertaining and yet in the true definition of the word art I found myself reflecting on my own life while watching it.
This charming film about a stranded busload of older women in rural
Canada is mostly improvised with non-professional actresses. Yet we get
to know each of the women, their pasts, their strengths, their hopes.
After their bus breaks down, the 7 older Canadian women and the younger bus driver (who sprains her ankle) wander down the road til they find a derelict house on a lake. It's an odd assortment of women who seem to have little in common, yet they find (and so do we) that our connections to one another always outweigh our differences.
Alice is a Mohawk Indian, Cissy, Beth, and Winnie are from England, Mary is from the USA, Constance was brought to Canada as a child, Catherine is a Canadian nun. Michelle is the bus driver. The women set to work exploring the house, finding food, making beds, etc. As the women work, they tell the stories of their lives. But they also discover their connections to nature.
Seemingly, the women have had ordinary lives with husbands, children, jobs, illnesses, losses. At various points in the film as each woman is telling her story, we are shown a small gallery of photos from her life. It's very moving to see the old woman telling her story while her youth passes before us in vintage photos.
There are many funny moments as the women try to fish, catch frogs, pick berries, or play. Most of the women settle into their temporary world quite well. A couple remain mostly outside the group.
What the film ultimately shows us is that even in old age, we can learn, experience new things, enjoy friendships, and even find joy in old age.
This is a remarkable film.
'Strangers in Good Company' is an odd sort of film, precisely because
of the honesty of its subjects who, other than playing their allotted
stereotypical roles in our collective pop culture, are routinely
ignored in film or television portrayal. Even the idiotic 'Something's
Gotta Give' seemed to have such a hard time with 60 year-old characters
and more so, with their relationship. Films like 'Strangers in Good
Company,' on the other hand (this one being largely improvised by its
cast of elderly female characters stranded in the Canadian countryside
when their bus breaks down), and others like 84 Charing Cross Road, or
similar films, actually give the audience a very touching, though
sometimes sad, portrayal.
Here, these women, on their way to one older woman's childhood home, become good friends as they hole up in what looks like an abandoned Canadian country home, roughing it for a few days while they try to find help. In the company of each other, they develop a friendship, and learn a bit about each other's lives as the days pass. Some of them memorable, interesting tales of the women's lives (see the trivia, most of what is told is pulled from their background) and some, very sad recollections and future perceptions such as the woman who's greatest fear was being destitute and left alone with no one to care for her. It is less a story of survival in the countryside and more of a tapestry of lives being told here and there. Some of the improvisation is evident as some of the actresses seem either unsure or uncomfortable with what is going on sometimes. But nonetheless, this low-budget picture actually turned out to be a nice little underrated film about something we don't always get to see or hear.
A superb movie dealing with life, the interplay of human strengths and weakness, and growing older. The movie uses non-professional actors playing themselves, and is wonderfully refreshing, thought provoking and moving. I give this movie a high recommendation.
This film will ring true to those of us who spent childhood afternoons with batty maiden aunts. Though batty maiden aunts vary in personality, temperament, and social skills you're sure to find one that is familiar because you have a whole busload to choose from. This beautifully shot and laconically paced film is sort of a rambling walk through the pasts of a group of older women from various backgrounds who get temporarily stranded in an isolated spot in Canada. Though the personalities of the characters are a little as-to-be-expected, the acting is guileless and the dialogue completely natural. Prepare to have your curiosity peaked about medicinal herbs, pornographic boot jacks, and the hunting habits of Cissy's cat. The only device I found a little annoying was the stopping of the action to show off old photos from the women's lives. It bothered me at the time, but looking back I understand what they were trying to do and even feel a little nostalgic about it; which, of course, is utterly appropriate. It's definitely off the beaten track, not either as flamboyant or banal as art films are want to be. But, In Good Company is definitely a well made piece worthy of a larger audience.
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