Title – The Stranger (2022)
Director – Thomas M. Wright (Acute Misfortune)
Cast – Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Ewen Leslie
Plot – Based on true events, The Stranger follows the work of undercover police officer Mark (Edgerton) who over an extensive period befriended the mysterious Henry Teague (Harris) in hope that an elaborate plan to get him to open up would lead to new information relating to the biggest missing persons case in Australian history.
“The closer you get….”
Review by Eddie on 31/10/2022
A truly unnerving movie watching experience that once more proves that the Australian feature film scene is one of the most adept in the world when it comes to crafting moody and memorable crime thrillers, both based in fact and entirely conjured up, Thomas M. Wright’s sophomore effort that follows on from his critical darling debut Acute Misfortune is a rare Netflix film that demands to be seen by a wide collection of viewers from both near and far.
Based on the true life case that followed the disappearance of young boy Daniel Morcombe in the early 2000’s, a case that is never directly referenced here by name, with the Morcombe family disowning Wright’s film from the outset, Wright’s chilling and moody effort follows both Joel Edgerton’s committed undercover operative and his dealings with Sean Harris’s creepy Henry Teague, whom authorities suspect had something to do with the disappearance of a young boy 8 years previously with an elaborate sting operation set-up to catch Teague off-guard and opening up to speak of his potential involvement in the case that captivated an entire nation.
Told and filmed in an untypical manner, almost like it were taking place within a fever dream that resembles a fractured version of our everyday reality, The Stranger finds Wright continuing on with the form he showed with his debut as he crafts a visually captivating and artistically minded feature that throws its audience headfirst into a gripping, if slowly paced narrative that becomes more white knuckle and unforgiving in nature as we unwrap just what is going on and understand the stakes that are at hand as our protagonists try and ascertain just who and what Teague really is as he shows his true colours to those he begins to trust.
Key to the films success outside of Wright’s impressive handling of proceedings behind the camera is the performances of his two leading men, with Edgerton as good as his ever been as the everyday Mark called upon to uproot his life to get close to Teague, while Harris once more proves that he is the king of delivering memorable villains with Teague a mumbling but dominant presence in a tale that rewards those willing to accept its methodical pacing that turns into a can’t look away narrative you won’t soon forget.
Such a high quality local production that has found critical success from around the globe at revered festival’s such as the Cannes Film Festival and Brussel’s International Film Festival but is likely to sadly be lost in translation amongst the plethora of far inferior Netflix productions that surround its streaming focused release, The Stranger is likely to be the Australian film of the year and another impressive calling card to the budding career of director Thomas M. Wright that deserves a wide and ranging audience tuning in to witness it.
Final Say –
A patient but rewarding true crime experience that unravels into a white knuckle examination of justice trying to be served, The Stranger is a gripping Australian dramatic thriller that features two noteworthy lead performances and some stunning directional work that makes this a Netflix film you should be tracking down at the nearest opportunity.
4 1/2 burnt out cars out of 5