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The Stranger in Us More at IMDbPro »

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11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Intriguing and Beautiful

Author: alassenamos from United States
21 October 2010

"The Stranger in Us"

Intriguing and Beautiful

Amos Lassen

"The Stranger in Us" is the story of a young aspiring poet named Anthony who follows Stephen. His lover and a successful therapist–across the country to San Francisco and they begin to build a life together. Everything fine until Stephen becomes very angry. From here to say anything else about the plot would give just too much away but Anthony has a hard time handling Stephen's anger and seeks an escape and finds himself in a very strange place. The story is not told chronologically—it is presented to us out of sequence and the movie moves back and forth as Anthony thinks about the past and what has led him to this point. At the start of the film, things seem totally confusing and in fact there is even repetition of certain scenes as we enter the Anthony's mind. I would have to classify this as a psychological drama and as we begin to understand what is happening, it is akin to being emotionally slapped across the face. The film is a raw look at urban life and we often feel like voyeurs, spying on the actors as they deliver incredibly realistic performances. It is a film that you will not soon forget. It will grab you and hold you and you will find that it is very difficult to let go. We come face to face with the beauty and the horror of the city at night as San Francisco, the setting for the film also becomes a character in it. Anthony is a small-town boy from Virginia who came to the city to be with his lover, Stephen (Scott Cox) who suddenly becomes abusive. Anthony out of desperation for companionship becomes friendly with Gavin (Adam Perez) a barely legal runaway and homeless street hustler, who has his own rough past. Anthony is a poet and he uses his poetry to try to understand where his life has taken him and to make some sense of it. He looks to the street for compassion and understanding. Anthony arrived in San Francisco wide-eyed and eager to build a life there but everything fell apart when Stephen began his angry outbursts. He had not known Stephen well yet he was dazzled enough by him to leave home and follow him. Anthony spends his days working in the concession area of a local movie theater and at night he wanders the city's streets, finding momentary solace in the beds of strangers listening to the love and torch songs and of a chanteuse (singer Veronica Klaus, in a lovely cameo). Gavin, a young runaway and hustler and Anthony become "friends" and Gavin becomes Anthony's guide, helper and watchman. However Gavin enjoys con games and scams too much and the novelty wears off for him. They both long for some kind of stability and they are devoted to each other which seems a contradiction to the previous sentence. Scott Boswell directed this gem of a film and he gives us the theme of the pleasure and the pain of losing oneself in the city and then regaining oneself nevertheless. This is a difficult film for those who have had similar experiences and Boswell has captured reality in all of its forms.Each of the characters face a tough time and for two of them it just seems to keep getting tougher until they find each other. The screenplay is amazing and allows the actors to give their all which they beautifully do—there is not a weak performance here. Raphael Barker's "Anthony" is perfection; he is the epitome of the boy/hustler/poet type. He is a complex character who thinks a lot—he is both sympathetic and reproachful, and he is tender and filled with passion (like a true poet).Adam Perez's "Gavin" is strong and physically beautiful. He is Anthony's fallen angel and when the two are together, it is electric. Scott Cox gives "Stephen" is interesting. He is the older man who has the resources to keep the good looking young poet and he is a manipulator. The film is a work of art. It challenges and it is hard and raw but it is about life and that is exactly what life is. It is one of the best so far this year and for a directorial debut, Scott Boswell has every reason to be very proud.

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13 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Find a way to see this movie!

Author: ryanbigbro
27 October 2010

I am a HUGE movie fan and am watching new movies all the time. I like all kinds of movies. But I cannot remember a movie in recent years that left a bigger impact on me than "The Stranger in Us." I had the privilege of seeing it at a film festival in Colorado and was blown away. There is just something so real and gritty about it that I could not get it out of my head. I believe that no matter who you are, where you are from, or what your background is, everybody will find something about this movie that they can relate to. I feel like every single person out there can identify in some way with some aspect of this movie. The performances touched my heart, both from the movie's heroes and villains. The director seems to have a really fresh eye. I am truly hoping to see much more from this director and these actors in the future. Whether you seek out film festivals or search for it on DVD if/when it gets released, find a way to see this movie.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The Disappointment In Us (Who Watched This)

Author: Franco-LA from United States
18 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie for free as a film festival volunteer in San Francisco. The way that the film festival works, you "work" a film, at the start AND the end of the film, to get to watch a film you really want to watch. While you don't have to stay and watch the film, most of the volunteers do. So if you work the system well and are lucky, you get to watch two movies you really are interested in, for the "price" of one.

However, this was not my lucky day. This was NOT a movie I was interested in, rather the volunteer coordinator sent out an email blast asking people to volunteer for this or a few other films that were not getting spots filled. As this movie was shot in and the filmmaker was from San Francisco, I figured what could it hurt, but boy was I wrong.

I love interesting, independent film. Complicated doesn't bother ("Pi," as just one example, since there are not too many gay themed films that can be considered very complex in their content and style); however, there is no genuine artistic merit or basis for the way the THIS particular story is told in respect to it's timeline.

In fact, the main problem that "The Stranger In Us" suffers from that of many first time gay films, which is the director making the choice of working from his own script. In this particular case, this guy has a few shorts to his credit, but in a short, you don't find the glaring mistakes that are amplified in an entire film - the choices that make no sense, the dialogue full of holes, the plot gaps that are as big as a bridge tunnel, etc. This film is replete with them.

The film doesn't have the saving grace of even having some innovative ideas or concept that could rescue it from simply being a mediocre film. The only really different aspect in this film is the treatment of spousal abuse between two gay men. The fact that this happen is often unreported in the gay press itself, much less touched upon artistically, either in short stories, films or by gay musicians. So there's the seed for what might be an interesting film or the aspect of a couple's relationship to explore in a film.

Otherwise, there's absolutely nothing to recommend this film - other than what an audience should expect - which is sufficient technical proficiency given it's budget: meaning, the sound is adequate and the film is in focus, etc.

Even as a free streamer on Netflix, where I noted recently that this was available, I would pass it along.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Stranger than fiction, but less interesting

Author: VikenMekhtarian from Canada
8 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just watches The Stranger in Us, and I'm thoroughly disappointing. I should say that it's not so annoying that I had to walk out of the movie, it is in fact clever in the way the story is told. However, once the movie ended, I wish I had left the theatre earlier.

Here's everything you need to know about The Stranger in Us: it appears to be a biographical story of a rather naive handsome, Southern man from the who met - and fell for - a hustler on the streets of San Fransisco after leaving an abusive relationship. The film has a bizarre narrative, made unnecessary complicated by jumping around time lines. It's the filmmakers directing skills and that clever narrative that keep you from really seeing the movie. Were it not for this cheap TV trick, no one would stand it. Overall I feel ripped off by this movie.

I should say though, that despite hating the movie, I do wish the filmmaker all the best in finding his little friend and getting things sorted out, because that is clearly the sole purpose of the film... so good luck! Films can function like postcards or souvenirs of a time and place or people that carry special feelings that the audience can experience and share. But if you use the medium as an explanation or a - "this is what I meant to say but never got a chance to" - you better make sure that what you have to say is worth listening to.

For anyone who is looking to this movie to be able to peer into interesting gay relationship dynamics or experience the life of the night-walkers of San Fransisco, well, you have to wait for the next movie. Don't be fooled by the graphics of posters, there is no movie here.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Three men's lives are intertwined as they search for the truth of love and freedom.

Author: Lauren51990 from United States
18 March 2011

After I watched this, I immediately wanted to watch it all over again. It's not something that happens every time I watch a movie of course...just the ones that I really enjoyed or spoke to me in some way. The Stranger in Us, was obviously, one of those films. It's a slightly dark film all around and definitely shows the harder side of being in a relationship (Anthony) and finding freedom and the chance to be yourself (Gavin).

One of the things that I kept thinking about The Stranger in Us is that Adam Perez, who played Gavin, is an amazing actor. I really enjoyed the character of Gavin...and he's definitely the "young adult" point of view as he's 17 through most of it. I just think Perez did an amazing job showing viewers the type of person that Gavin is and who he wishes he could be. He deals with a lot but he also has a very optimistic look on life. He does things that he shouldn't, but he also helps Anthony stay on the right side of life in other ways by not doing drugs, and not going back to Stephen. You look at the type of things Gavin does to survive on his own and you might think he has no respect for himself, but it's not as simple as that. You really get to see the various sides of his life.

The Stranger in Us is set up, editing wise, in an interesting fashion. It took me awhile to follow actually as it has three different times being mixed together. I suppose it's hard to explain, but it gets easier as the film goes on. You just have to keep watching, figure out what is happening and when, and you're good.

I'm not sure The Stranger in Us has a rating, but I suppose with everything included...I would say it's rated R as it can be a bit graphic in parts. You definitely should have a more mature audience viewing this.

I was sad when the ending came, but I also found it to be realistic. Not everything is the way you might wish it to be, and it's definitely not a "happily ever after" end, but again, it seems more real because of this. You can still see the silver lining so to speak. It definitely left me curious about the characters' futures though and I think that's a sign of a pretty good film.

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3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Far from good

Author: landsend25 from United States
27 February 2012

There are so many things in this movie that are unbelievable but that is besides the point! The relationship between Steven and Anthony is seriously disturbing however, I applaud the attempt to bring to light the fact that abuse in gay relationships exists. Even with this however, there are serious development flaws in these two characters and the acting leaves much to be desired. Anthony's Character is very timid and shy but some of his actions don't make sense considering he is painted from the beginning as being so introverted - like picking up random men. Steven's character is abusive but nothing about him is intimidating, threatening or even remotely scary - yes, he is a bitchy little queen but that doesn't make an audience believe that this guy could give his boyfriend a black eye or bash his head on a coffee table!

Gavin is the only saving grace in this film! This kid's character is believable and the actor plays the role well!

And the crazy time-line thing - only distracts the audience.

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