3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A moving reconstruction of family history,
This review is from: Perfect Strangers  [DVD] (DVD)
How do we remember the earliest years of our lives? Do we recall only scattered fragments, preserved out of context and therefore oddly disjointed and somehow incomprehensible? Do received versions of family history hide more than they reveal, and how far are our own earliest memories distorted by the passage of time, or by fictitious accounts of family history recounted to us by our parents, or by photographic images that don't tell the whole story but only part of it? And why is it that the same patterns of behaviour keep on repeating themselves, almost irresistibly, from one generation to the next within the same family?
These are among the questions dealt with by Stephen Poliakoff in his remarkable film Perfect Strangers - a film that begins with the preparations for a family reunion, and proceeds slowly (sometimes very slowly indeed) to a marvellous and moving climax.
The film is divided into three parts, and despite the excellence of the acting, the intensity of the atmosphere, and the impeccable cinematography (this is an unusually beautiful film, as well as an absorbing and moving one) some people may find the first two parts intolerably slow, and irritatingly full of loose ends and unsolved mysteries. But it's important to persevere, for in the final part, Poliakoff skilfully draws together all the threads and all the disparate developments into a convincing and moving conclusion.
This film makes you think - about your own past, about the pasts of people you think you know, and about the way in which we set about reconstructing our own pasts. It's also in the end a compassionate and understanding exploration of human nature. In short, a wonderful film in my opinion, and highly recommended. I'd willingly give Perfect Strangers ten stars, but only five are on offer, so five it will have to be.