03 March 2013

Movie Review: The Stranger in Us


This is one of the movies where you wonder who is to blame, the casting director or the make-up artists. Ralph Barker is overall a very good actor but there was something about his look that made it hard to really hook into the narrative.

Now this movie reminded me of that time in my life where I dated someone who was abusive, violent and constantly unfaithful. It was a relatively short period of time fortunately and it has allowed me to get insight into how otherwise reasonable people end up in emotionally destructive, abusive relationships and find it difficult to leave (when economic circumstances are no restraint) -- more about that in a moment.

Gavin Introducing Anthony to His Adolescence

The movie is about an aspiring writer named Anthony (Ralph Barker) who relocates to San Francisco to be with his boyfriend, Stephen. Stephen begins to open up on how abusive, controlling and possessive he really was. Anthony, though, struggles with whether to separate from Stephen. Anthony who is desperate for intimacy and human friendship befriends punchdrunk homeless gay teen husler Gavin (Adam David). Gavin provides a stark contrast to Stephen in almost every way and the instability in Gavin's life infects Stephen's as he ponders whether there is a life beyond an abusive relationship.

This movie got me thinking about two different times in my life. One was when I was like a punchdrunk homeless gay teen and the other was being in an abusive relationship. It ended and I can only say how fortunate I am that I have been able to dismantle and/or make peace with the emotional framework that was conducive to that kind of relationship. An abusive relationship is very much the consequence of something I would liken to an addiction. It is not the abuse that is addictive, in the same way that someone who is an alcoholic is not addicted to the vomiting or the black outs.

A couple in an abusive relationship watching this movie would likely become extremely uncomfortable as the scenes of domestic violence begin to populate the screen. I also don't know that this is really a date movie. But, the writing and acting are well done and so it certainly is something not to miss.

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