From a filmmaking perspective, Mistaken for Strangers is far more technically sound than it lets on. And not just the concert footage, in which several high quality cameras capture the calm-turned-crazy energy of the band’s shows. But pay attention to other aspects of the production. Notice how the sound is often much better quality than the crappy microphone built into Tom’s camera. Notice how, on occasion, it’s difficult to tell who’s holding the camera, especially when both Tom and Matt are on screen together. Basically, Tom is far more attuned to the filmmaking process than his film lets on. He courageously paints himself as a fumbling, dimwitted buffoon, but the guy knows how to capture and cut footage. It’s a rare instance of a filmmaker trying to cheapen the quality of his work with trickery, as a means of enhancing the meta vibe of the story.
In the case of Mistaken for Strangers, the answer is a universal Yes. The fun of the film isn’t just watching Tom behave like a moron, but rather, wondering how much of Tom’s performance is performance, as opposed to real human behavior. Don’t get me wrong, the film isn’t a farce; much of the footage feels highly authentic, because, presumably, it is. There’s a brief shot of Matt finishing a show and rushing backstage to find solace. Tom calls out to him, and Matt stares blankly into the camera, as if he doesn’t recognize Tom at all. The moment lasts for half a second, but it is easily the most poignant scene in the film. Tom takes offense to Matt’s slight, and Matt’s wife calmly justifies her husband’s behavior. “He has to go to a place when he’s up there. That’s the job.”
Yep, that’s the job. Mistake your brother for a stranger and seek shelter in an isolated dressing room, away from the pulp fiction of the lens. B+