DWF 2013: 'How to Follow Strangers' - Advance Film Review

 

How to Follow StrangersOne of the hallmarks of a really good drama is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. From the Q&A session after How to Follow Strangers at the Dances With Films independent film festival on Monday night, it’s clear that writer/director Chioke Nassor doesn’t take himself too seriously. Not only did he come up wearing a tiara with colored flashing lights, but nearly every question was met with a silly answer before he gave the real one. He invited the audience to come and buy him drinks at the Roosevelt Hotel after the screening, and generally seemed to be a fun, down-to-earth guy. At the same time, it was also clear from the Q&A session that Mr. Nassor loves what he does and really cares about this film and the team that helped him put it together, which is a hallmark, not just of dramas, but of any really good film.


How to Follow Strangers
is about a woman named Eleanor (Ilana Glazer), who’s a bit lonely, and a bit awkward. When she begins a new job, she sees a man named Casey (Chris Roberti) at the subway station every morning, catching a train at the same time she is. Through a couple of chance encounters, they meet and begin to talk. He’s also a bit lonely and a bit awkward, and they hit it off.

Then, one day, Casey isn’t at the subway station anymore, and Eleanor wonders what happened. So, she tries to find him and ends up following/stalking him just a bit. Not in a malicious or even a creepy way. She’s just a bit awkward.

The film is very dialogue-heavy, and full of conversations and stories about life, love, death, relationships, and more. There’s a lot of witty banter, jokes, and a bit of silliness. But, there are also some more thoughtful and even poignant moments. This is why it’s important for a movie like this not to take itself too seriously. The banter between Eleanor and Casey, layered with the more serious conversations, helps to make the characters more three-dimensional. The humorous overtones end up accentuating the dramatic parts, making them more powerful and more relatable.

But, the film feels more than just relatable. It feels real. It feels genuine. Part of this is because at least some of the incidents and stories in the film are based on things that really happened. It’s not “based on a true story,” but it includes moments that happened to Mr. Nassor or people he knew, or things he heard about on the news. That little touch adds a good deal to the film.

In addition, the love story between Eleanor and Casey isn’t your typical Hollywood romance where the two are perfect for one another and spend a whole evening figuring out all the ways that their lives are perfectly in sync. Instead, it’s a bit of an awkward romance, filled with clashes, missteps, and regrettable moments. But, those moments only help to make the characters’ relationship more true to life, and make us root even more for them to be together.

This is a small movie, but it hits all the right buttons. The two leads have great chemistry together and know how to get both our laughter and our empathy. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously—but it captures our interest and really makes itself stand out.

 

 

Last modified on Friday, 28 December 2018 18:13

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