What goes on tour, stays on film

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - TARA BRADY


Di­rected by Tom Berninger 15A cert, Light House, Dublin; Eye, Galway, 74 min The Na­tional, the in­die-sch­mindie Brook­lyn-based rock­ers at the heart of this splen­did mu­sic doc, know how to bang to­gether a cho­rus. But the pri­mary re­frain of Mis­taken for Strangers is “You kinda got to get your shit to­gether a lit­tle bit”.

The tar­get for such sen­ti­ment is Tom Berninger, younger brother of Na­tional front­man Matt. Matt is typ­i­cal of the hard­work­ing, sleekly bearded hip­sters who pop­u­late the alt.scene. Tom is a slightly over­weight goof­ball metal-head who lives with his par­ents. His great­est achieve­ment is a DIY movie wherein cave­men bat­tle with Sith clones. “I don’t want a girl­friend right now,” Tom says. “I don’t have the clothes.”

When Matt throws his lov­able kid brother a bone by tak­ing him on tour as a roadie, Tom is dis­ap­pointed to learn that his sib­ling does lit­tle on the road that might be con­fused with the an­tics of the All­man Broth­ers cira 1977. He won­ders, as do we, why there isn’t more crazy stuff go­ing on.

Tom keeps his cam­era rolling to cre­ate the film we’re watch­ing, even though, as other band mem­bers point out, that’s not in his job de­scrip­tion. Nor is dis­ap­pear­ing off to lis­ten to Rob Hal­ford’s Christ­mas al­bum. Nor is leav­ing ce­real on the bath­room floor in the mid­dle of the night for Matt to clean up. Nor is leav­ing wet swim­ming gear to dip dry on the tour bus.

“Matt was a lot eas­ier to raise than you,” Tom’s mother tells him. We’re not too sur­prised when he doesn’t get to meet Barack Obama with the rest of the band.

Still, there’s some­thing dis­arm­ing about the less fa­mous Berninger brother. He is, to bor­row his phrase, metal when all around are cof­fee­house. As a doc­u­men­tar­ian, he asks un­pre­ten­tious ques­tions that no one else would, such as “Who can play faster?”

We loved ev­ery minute of Tom’s com­pany and his film, right down to Hal­ford’s O Holy Night over the clos­ing cred­its. Sadly, it’s not on Spo­tify. Boo.

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