Taking its title from the famous line in A Streetcar Named Desire, Lone Scherfig’s The Kindness Of Strangers is a maudlin mess. Set in New York, the sprawling ensemble drama centres around a young mother (Zoe Kazan) who goes on the run from her abusive cop husband with her two sons. She heads to Manhattan and, when funds run out, she finds rock bottom trying to scavenge for food. Cue the eponymous strangers, who’ll help the family through their trials and tribulations.
The film’s good intentions are never in question, as it clearly aimed to be an uplifting modern-day fable. However, its tonal lurches undermine any genuine emotional engagement, with the most heart-warming scenes feeling like discarded outtakes from Love Actually or a Dan Fogelman (This Is Us) wetdream. Only Kazan and Andrea Riseborough redeem proceedings, doing their best while saddled with overripe dialogue and dated storytelling. Needless to say, Blanche Dubois would not approve.
The Kindness Of Strangers | Directed by Lone Scherfig (Denmark, Canada, Sweden, France, UK, US, 2019), with Zoe Kazan, Andrea Riseborough, Bill Nighy. Starts Dec 12.
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