Written, edited, and directed by James Vaughan, Friends and Strangers is an Australian drama film that stars Fergus Wilson as Ray, and Emma Diaz as Alice.
Set in Sydney, Australia we are introduced to Ray and Alice before they go camping together. While on the camping trip, they meet fellow campers. But after an awkward exchange between Ray and Alice, we then move forward in time to follow the two back in the city, where individually they encounter new job opportunities, have car troubles, and go out for coffee breaks with work colleagues.
The film is presented as short sketches that are pieced together with the only real link being that they feature both Ray and Alice. As there isn’t really a story, all the film does is follow the two as they do mundane things or get into awkward situations.
I struggled to find any redeeming qualities about this film. For a film that includes a lot of dialogue, it really isn’t written very well. The conversations between the characters are awkward and unnatural. Quite often, a character will ask a question and they will get a one-worded response, then suddenly they will start talking about something completely different or the characters will just ramble on about something insignificant. Throughout the feature, it feels like they are just talking for the sake of talking.
There are a lot of really strange camera shots in the film as well. For example, there is a scene where two characters are talking in a car and the camera focuses more on their ears than their faces, and during the same scene, when the point of view of the camera is of the street, the camera view is constantly shaking, which makes the film painful watch.
The most frustrating thing of all about Friends and Strangers is that it is dull and doesn’t go anywhere. There isn’t a coherent story. The film just follows the characters as they meet other people and have pointless conversations that have no significance to the characters or to the very little plot that the film already has.
Friends and Strangers is an unremarkable film. It’s lack of story and character development mixed with its poor writing and average camera work makes for an unpleasant time-wasting viewing experience.
Friends and Strangers is playing now exclusively at ACMI until the 20th of March 2022. The film will also have screenings in Sydney, Adelaide, Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour in March and April 2022.