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Familiar Strangers
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Familiar Strangers More at IMDbPro »

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A movie about people you love not special effects

Author: djsailor from Virginia, United States
14 June 2008

My wife said we should go see this film when it was being shown at a local film festival. I did not know what I going to see or to expect. I thought it was going to be a 15-minute short amateur effort. What I saw was one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in years. A story about a family (emphasis on story and family) and not a big budget film where the special effects were the best thing in the film. It is a film that tells in a light hearted way the story of a disjointed family. As in any family, dysfunctional seems to be normality. In truth, the family members do not know the 'real person' in each other, hence the title, "Familiar Strangers." The story is set in a small rural Virginia town that fills in for anywhere, USA because the characters will seem, well, like some of our own close neighbors or family members.

Georgia Mae Lively's performance as Maddy tells me that we will be seeing her in more films in the future. Each character was wonderfully acted and believable. The level of acting made each character seem real and brings you into the film. This is what a movie is supposed to do. Suspend reality and emotionally pull you into the characters' lives. The story has twists and turns that keep you hanging on to each line to ensure you don't miss anything.

In today's whiz-bang world, I found the pace to be a bit slow, which is why I gave this film only a 9 of 10 stars. I do want to get a copy of this movie on DVD so I can watch it again and see if I missed some nuance. The only sad part is that this movie has not yet found a distributor and is only being shown at small film events. I hope it does so I can tell my friends and family a nice way to spend time with someone you love.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A different kind of film

Author: grayson-connie from United States
31 December 2008

Why different? It is harrd to say. It is quiet in its approach and gives you time to enter the world of the characters. it gives you time to know them, and to figure out their motivations without caterring to the lowest common denominator. By the end, I was loving this film and wishing there were more like it.

It seems that the story was real in every way. There weren't many people in the theater when I was there but I heard great comments from others when we left.

The acting was great, especially the dad and mom. I laughed and cried and was glad I came. Will definitely recommend.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

excellent real-life film

Author: FilmLabRat
17 March 2009

This film masterfully avoids the Hollywood glitz and hype (and message-drivenness of late) by following the antics of a slightly dysfunctional but not ridiculous American family. (no 'Royal Tenenbaums' here) The scenes are 'everyday' and easy to relate to while carrying meaning, engaging and moving the audience forward.

The "everyman" sense you get from the father especially and the "everytown" feeling you get from their small town really connect with almost anyone from a "real" family with generic problems.

Good script and casting.... love the "D-ball" town rivalry and simplicity of relationships - in all their evolving glory. The awkwardness and sports-talk speaks volumes of truth about the divide yet understandings between generations.

I can't believe this was produced on a low-budget. Really a breath of fresh air, this year. See and support this film! I hope we can see more of these produced.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

There should be more of this type of film.

Author: ddaught from United States
24 December 2008

Quiet. Thoughtful. Funny. Meaningful.

It is a story of a family like many I know, dealing with all of the baggage that family relationships contain. This could sound boring to some, but give it a chance and it will creep up on you until you find that you care deeply. This film works surprisingly well in a genre that is well mined. It could have reeked of boredom but instead it is fresh in its approach.

Comparable to Little Miss sunshine and Juno, but not as contrived. Just real, meaningful entertainment. I rate a 9 out of 10 as the opening act could be more engrossing, but give it a chance and you will be rewarded.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Great independent movie exploring family and life's relationships

Author: dave-estep from United States
15 November 2008

I attended the opening of the film for the public in Fairfax, VA. This film is an especially good movie if you're looking for characters of depth and a good story. I was impressed with the development of the characters, the level and quality of the acting and the overall production value for an independent effort with a limited budget. The script and story line were well developed, had rich content. They especially ring true to those that have undergone, or are undergoing, changes in their family relationships as parents grow older and children become adults.

Set in any town America, during the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a touching story, with a poignant ending. But it is also liberally sprinkled with slightly off-beat and light hearted humor. A very good effort by the fledgling Cavalier films, and I hope to see more films of similar quality from this promising enterprise in the future.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A holiday family film ,that is quite good.

Author: Jay Harris ( from United States
1 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Familiar Strangers is a very low budget,but very well done family film,taking place over the 4- day Thanksgiving weekend. The setting is Staunton Virginia, For those that do not know, Staunton is a very small city in rural Virginia.

I do not know Staunton, BUT I know other small towns & have met folks like these, I felt right at home,The peoples are not perfect or overly bright, BUT they are small town Americana., The sort of people you would like knowing.

Zackary Adler directed. (I want to see more of his films). John Bell wrote the screenplay (this is his first I want to see more of his work as well. Both show talent that should not be wasted.

We have seen many of the actors in small roles in other films & television shows. They all are real good.

Shawn Hatosy & DJ Quails are 2 brothers--home for the holidays. Tom Bower & Ann Dowd are there parents. Nicki Reed & Cameron Richardson are there sisters.

The family is slightly quirky but all are fine people.

This had next to no theatrical run when released in November 2008 that is a shame.

There are no car crashes, explosions,mild language at times, no sex or nudity, JUST A FINE FAMILY FILM.

running tome is 86 minutes & there is a nice music song score. Rent this, you will be glad you did.

Ratings; *** (out of 4) 88 points(out of 100) IMDb 8 (out of 10)

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Lovely Film

Author: flmgrl100 from United States
13 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Familiar Strangters is a very enjoyable journey through the heart of a family. Nothing is really wrong here, but the characters fight their demons as we all do, and that is what is so cool about this movie.

I loved the integration of the dogs into the family. This is so real! When animals are incorporated into a family, they become a part of the pain and the pleasure, and often become tools for use in the chemistry.

All of the actors were great, which I guess says there was great directing involved. The story was spare with no unnecessary flamboyance or distraction. No cheap laughs, just earned giggles that sneak up on you. It was over way before I wanted to leave, which I guess makes it perfect. And, my boyfriend even liked it.

I left this film feeling good. Like others who have commented, I too was reminded of Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, but this one is a whole lot more real. I loved them, and I love this!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Fun Film!

Author: from United States
16 January 2009

I saw this film with no expectations one evening with my boyfriend and we were both pleasantly surprised. The story is eerily familiar as the characters are not-such-strangers since they can remind you of your own acquaintances...a fun yet frightening realization. My one criticism would be that there seems to be some parts that lack soundtrack or background noises. Maybe this was a creative decision to force us to focus on the uncomfortable moments?

This movie is a fantastic portrayal of the beauty in family dysfunction. Witty and sometimes painful, this film has you falling in love with its characters before you even realize it. A great movie with a great message! I definitely recommend watching this fun film!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A sweet natured film

Author: kvedt from United States
9 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film was shot in rural Virginia and it certainly has the feel of it. A very sweet natured film, it tells a good story at a non-frenetic pace. No guns, explosions, morphing aliens, super-powers, etc. Familiar Strangers is a family film for sure. It is also remarkable well shot - it's a really, really good looking film.

The acting is generally well done. Main problem for me is the potential love interest that is set up and even has some follow up, but then it's simply dropped. It's not a major part of the story though, so doesn't have any impact on the main narrative thread.

The strained family dynamics that run through much (but not all) of the movie are not of the cringe-inducing variety, but will hit home for a lot of viewers. I'll not spoil another development that occurs towards the end, however. A resolution does come about though, so it meets the needs for a good holiday family film.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Some potential but didn't deliver.

Author: BernardoLima from Portugal
17 November 2009

Familiar Strangers tells the story of the Worthington's family. Brian ( Shawn Hatosy) is the older brother who left a long time ago to pursue his dreams and ambitions. He ended up writing a technical book but feels like he hasn't archived much.When he returns home, he tries to re-connect with his family but his father Frank (Tom Bower ) is still angry at him for leaving and not helping with the family business, his brother Kenny (DJ Qualls) refuses to grow up,his sister Erin (Cameron Richardson) is falling to pieces after a failed marriage and his mother Dottie (Ann Dowd) is trying to keep the family together. On top of this,Frank seems to have replaced his estranged son with a dog. The Worthington's manage to re-connect over a game of donkey ball and Brian tries to help his family as much as he can before he leaves again.Familiar Strangers seemed to have all the right ingredients but didn't really worked. This small indie tries to capture the everyday life and the family dynamics but due to some awkward dialog and bad direction it falls flat.The script is not very solid and the narrative seems to disperse every now and then. Also Shawn Hatosy character lacks charisma and personality which makes hard to relate to him. Good performance by Tom Bower as Frank,the patriarch though. In conclusion, a weak and poorly directed film that had some potential but didn't deliver.


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