Between Strangers Release Date: 13 September 2002 (Italy) Genre: Drama Director: Edoardo Ponti Writer: Edoardo Ponti Starring: Sophia Loren, Mira Sorvino, Deborah Unger, Malcolm McDowell Yay. It’s yet another one of those films, inspired by the success of Short Cuts, that focuses on a few separate stories that wrap together thanks to one common element. […]

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Between Strangers
Release Date: 13 September 2002 (Italy)
Genre: Drama
Director: Edoardo Ponti
Writer: Edoardo Ponti
Starring: Sophia Loren, Mira Sorvino, Deborah Unger, Malcolm McDowell

Yay. It’s yet another one of those films, inspired by the success of Short Cuts, that focuses on a few separate stories that wrap together thanks to one common element. While I usually stray away from arthouse films in general for this column, Between Strangers attracted me thanks to the appearances by Sophia Loren and Malcolm McDowell, coupled with the film essentially going direct-to-video in the states after not receiving much more than a New York theatrical release. After watching it, it’s not hard to see why. Simply put, it’s an underwhelming dud.

Between Strangers features three stories that inspire varying amounts of interest. The first is of Sophia Loren, whose drawings and talks with the local gardener lead her to believe that her lost child just may be a famous artist that her work resembles. At the same time, she’s also stuck in a worse for wear marriage to the handicapped John, who frequently belittles her state of mind. Natalia (Mira Sorvino), a renowned photojournalist with an overbearing father, is the focus of the second. Her newest piece, a photo of a suffering Angolan boy, is one that she doesn’t even remember taking. The fact that she ignored the child instead of helping him causes her to rethink her entire life. Least interest of the three is the last, which focuses on celebrated musician Catherine’s (Deborah Unger) story of anger and unbridled confusion. When her reclusive father (McDowell) is released from prison, she becomes depressed and angry. There’s nothing interesting in this story, minus McDowell’s scene at his former home. For the most part, you even dislike Unger, feeling as her behavior is selfish, and not justified despite her hardships.

I really wanted to like Between Strangers. Despite enjoying films where Ice-T and Eric Roberts trade gunshots, I love arthouse movies. I make the half hour trip to see them at least three times a month. But if you take away the tremendous performances put forth by the actors involved, it has no substance to it. If you’re a pretentious jackass who likes to pretend to enjoy every independent drama, then you may enjoy this. But then again, pretentious jackasses who like independent dramas likely aren’t reading Your Video Store Shelf.

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