Sibling dynamics provide endless fodder for movies. Take Michael and Fredo's relationship in The Godfather and its sequel or Ice Cube and Morris Chestnut in Boyz n the Hood or Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo in You Can Count On Me.

Now there’s Mistaken for Strangers, a funny and touching documentary by Tom Berninger about his relationship with his older brother, The National lead singer Matt Berninger. It’s a compelling piece of filmmaking about family bonds and sibling rivalry—The National is made up of two sets of brothers and Matt.

Tom, an aspiring filmmaker, is hired as a roadie for a band tour. A perpetual goof and a slacker, he’s ill suited for job, and clearly feels more comfortable shooting documentary footage and hanging with the band than doing the roadie work.

Watching Tom constantly make mistakes is simultaneously enraging and pitiable; watching him and Matt act out their brotherly tropes tugs at the heartstrings while making you say, “Dude, get your shit together.” As a younger brother myself who has always felt like the family fuck-up, it hits decidedly close to home. Non-The National fans may not be so engaged by it, but anyone with siblings should give it a chance. You may see yourselves up there.


Directed by Tom Berninger
With The National and Tom Berninger
CCA Cinematheque
75 min.