Film review – Friends and Strangers

Currently showing at Dendy Canberra
Also in limited release in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide

Bonsai Films, Australia, 2021, 84 minutes
Rated MA+ (strong coarse language)
Starring Fergus Wilson and Emma Diaz
Directed by James Vaughan

Two privileged millennials team up for a kind of of road movie, described in the blurb as ‘a dryly comic exploration of displacement and ennui in contemporary Australia.’

The film has won some critical acclaim, but for me it’s vaguely reminiscent of experimental Australian films of the 1970s such as Dalmas, which had a promising beginning but after a while abandoned all pretense of plot and ended up with the crew on an acid trip talking about film-making.

Many of the vignettes in Friends and Strangers, such as when the protagonists go on a camping trip and meet a man with long white hair, begin building plot lines which just fizzle out. The actors do their job admirably and there are some nicely-composed shots of Sydney and other locations, but sometimes the film has the feel of a film school exercise.

As Emma Diaz’s character says during the camping trip, ‘I’m just a bit confused about what I’m actually doing here.’ Maybe the film is meant to be about boredom and pointlessness, but I’m not sure it needs 84 minutes to do that.

Thanks to Ned & Co for the opportunity to preview Friends and Strangers.