The Kindness of Strangers
Dogme 95 alum Lone Scherfig continues in English for her tenth film, The Kindness of Strangers, a Danish-Canadian co-production, which takes place in a Russian restaurant in New York. Produced by Malene Blenkov and Sandra Cunningham through Denmark’s Creative Alliance, Canada’s Strada Films with co-producers through Germany’s Nadcon, Sweden’s Unlimited Stories and France’s D’Artagnan, Scherfig’s international cast consists of Andrea Riseborough, Tahar Rahim, Zoe Kazan, Jay Baruchel, Bill Nighy, David Dencik and Caleb Landry Jones. Sebastian Blenkov, who lensed Scherfig’s The Riot Club (2014) and 2016’s Their Finest (review), returns as cinematographer. Scherfig’s first big break was with 2000’s Italian for Beginners (review), which took home the Ecumenical Jury Prize and the Silver Bear Jury Prize at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival. But it was 2009’s An Education which brought international acclaim, playing in the Berlinale Special sidebar and winning the Audience Award at Sundance in the World Dramatic category before going on to nab three Oscar nods (for Picture, Actress Carey Mulligan, and Screenplay).
Gist: Scherfig’s script, set within a Russian restaurant, is an ensemble centering on Clara (Kazan), a mother looking to avoid her abusive cop husband; Alice (Riseborough), a shy ER nurse who has found her calling running an eclectic therapy group; Marc (Rahim), an ex-con now turned manager of the restaurant; Jeff (Landry Jones), a young man in desperate need of a job; John Peter (Baruchel), a lawyer with high ethics but low self-esteem; and Timofey (Nighy), owner of the restaurant and the grandson of Russian immigrants.
Release Date/Prediction: The Kindness of Strangers will open the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival and will be Scherfig’s second time competing for the Golden Bear.