User Reviews (21)

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  • Everything about this movie was perfect - the three lead characters were played with such depth and restraint! Although I have never been in the position of any of these women (luckily), I feel like I could relate to their emotions, their ambivalence, their sadness and their ultimate strength. If ever there was a movie that showed the power of living through adversity, this is it! Gerard Depardieu was lovely as an intuitive friend - he was in it just a little, but his presence always moved the movie forward. Sophia Loren's husband was a perfectly human foil - both had shattered dreams and took two different paths in dealing with it, but both paths were completely understandable. Although his character could have been horribly despicable (and, boy!, some of his dialog was shockingly mean), he didn't seem like a monster. Not even the hoodlums were one-dimensional. Miro Sorvino took my breath away, Deborah Unger's restraint was outstanding and Sophia Loren - well, her best role, ever. This is a movie for the down-hearted, for those at impossible crossroads, and for those who like hopeful - not happy - endings.
  • soguns23 November 2002
    It is rare coming from such a young filmmaker to see a film with this maturity and understanding for women. I recommend it to anyone who wishes not only to be moved but also inspired by the story's message: the courage to be yourself no matter what. This film will stay in me for a long long time.
  • vcuty1 December 2009
    Look ! i know the story line could be repeated in many other films, i know the plot is sometimes weak, i know the ending gathering scene is far fetched you may say all that but...but forget all that and look at Sophia Lauren oh my god what an acting how up and down she good with her emotions and face expressions,with her feelings of despair of guilt then of hope all mixed in one scene..one shot look at her in the book shop scene-master scene for her,she is determined yet weak as a woman with a hard past its an art film,art in acting art in development of heightened feelings,if it shows on TV..Watch it its not just a film for wounded women its a film for those who have sensitive feelings and have been wounded in the past and by the way ,the ending is deep just try to think of it..out of the box.. i gave that rankling for the superb acting for Mira survino as well as THE Sophia Lauren also for announcing proudly that its shot and takes its events in Canada
  • Cosmoeticadotcom8 September 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    Between Strangers is the sort of film that never gets made in America- not in Hollywood big budget films nor in independent films, because it is a film that takes its own sweet time in conveying its ideas to the viewer. That's not to say that it's a great film, nor even a pretty good one, but watching this 2003 Canadian-Italian film on DVD, shot in Toronto, gives a viewer an insight into how other people enjoy the same basic forms of art.

    This film follows the lives of three different women, each of whom has issues surrounding a trauma involving a little girl, and their own troubles relating to the men in their lives. That the film makes heavy-handed usage of a little girl (Sydney Pearson) that appears to each of them once, as a symbol, is a flaw, since there was no need for symbolism in an otherwise realistic film. The cast is loaded with international film heavyweights, not the least of whom is Sophia Loren, whose son Edoardo Ponti (whose father is Carlo Ponti), in his first time at a film's helm, wrote and directed this film. She plays Olivia, a woman who works in a Toronto supermarket, and years earlier married an ex-athlete, now wheelchair bound invalid, John, played by Pete Postlethwaite, a man whose rage at the world is directed like a laser at his masochistic wife. Her secret is that she had a daughter out of wedlock, as a teenager, and was forced to give her up for adoption by her father. Now, the daughter (Wendy Crewson) is a famed sculptress, whose fame seems to coincide with Olivia's own rediscovery of her drawing talent, unused since her pregnancy, of works of art eerily similar to her daughter's, and encouraged by Max (Gerald Depardieu), her gardener friend at a local park. The second woman lead is Natalia Bauer, a photojournalist played by Mira Sorvino, whose photos from the war in Angola have landed her a cover of Time magazine, much to the delight of her father, Alexander (Klaus Maria Brandauer), himself a legendary photojournalist, who both encourages and discourages her passive-aggressively. Yet, she is guilt-ridden by the girl in her photo, because she could have saved the child's life, rather than gotten the photo. The third woman is Catherine (Debra Unger), a famed cellist who is stalking her ex-convict father, Alan Baxter (Malcolm McDowell), after he is released from prison after twenty-two years. She blames him for her mother's death, and this crisis has made her leave her marriage and daughter, who leaves plaintive messages on her answering machine.

    That's the set up. Little overtly occurs in the film…. Sophia Loren gives a magnificent performance in what is reputedly the hundredth film of her career. Those who have chided her as building a career on her sexuality have never seen this woman's eyes. She is one of those rarities who acts with every square inch of her body. Postlethwaite, as her husband, is also very good, and it should not surprise that the best story in the film is the one the filmmaker accorded his mother.

    Yet, I felt, to a degree, as if I were watching a slightly better than average telefilm from the 1970s, at times, but one that never quite gels into something first rate nor substantial. This is the screenplay's fault, and thus the burden lies with Ponti. It is one of those rare works of art that doesn't terribly move you, but you are better for having seen it, even though it will not haunt you. If that seems like a very mixed reaction, then I have succeeded in recapitulating my experience in watching it, and- for reasons that elude me, and despite all its flaws, I think you should watch it, too.
  • BETWEEN STRANGERS is a tough story told with unrelieved intensity, acted with underplayed angst, and directed with quiet strength by Eduardo Ponti. The "Strangers" are three unrelated women, each of whom has a burden that grows until it must be lifted.

    Mira Sorvino is a media photographer, daughter of Klaus Maria Brandauer (who has multiple awards for his own news photography, who has just had one of her images appear on TIME magazine - an image of a little girl from Angola who we gradually learn died in the fire Mira was photographing. She is haunted by the fact that the time she spent photographing the child could have been used to save the child's life.

    Deborah Unger is a concert cellist whose wife-abusing father (Malcolm McDowell) is released from prison despite her conviction that he should die for his cruelty, forcing her to leave her own family in the attempt to end her father's existence.

    Sophia Loren is a haggard housewife who has devoted her sad life to caring for her wheelchair-bound past athlete husband (Pete Postlethwaite) until she sees her illegitimate daughter she was forced to abandon becoming the sculptor artist she herself always wanted to be. Each of these women have visions of the same small girl at moments when they are forced to confront their pain and each finds a way back to salvation through 'living out a dream'.

    Some may find the story saccharine, but the actors deliver these sad folk in such an honest way that together they manage to capture our hearts. It is a true pleasure to see Sophia Loren act again and even the makeup she dons for her dowdy role cannot hide the fact that she remains one of the most beautiful women the screen has known - and one of the best actresses. All cast members are superb. Just be aware of the fact that this is a bleak story that requires much from the viewer. The rewards are worth it.
  • What a wonderful film! What a superb cast. What a sensitive, haunting story. Everything comes to-gether --- the music, the cinematography, the story --- to produce a beautiful motion picture. A very different role for Sophia Loren. As you might expect, she excels. But so does everybody else. The scene in the book store is one of cinema's great moments. The silver screen has invincible power when it used so masterfully. And how very nice to see Toronto play itself for a change instead of acting as a stand in for some other place. A few films like this would do far more to revive the city's shattered image than concerts by the Stones and visits by Conan O'Brien. This film is a keeper!!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    After about half an hour, I was almost ready to turn off the DVD because it seemed pretty boring and pointless. However, I stuck with it and was very amply rewarded as the movie came together to form a coherent whole. Up until about 2/3 the way through the movie, actually, how these three stories interrelated was completely uncertain--other than the fact the three main characters lived near each other. It was only later that the theme of loss and eventual redemption came to light. Three women all coming to terms with loss in their lives, then working through the crisis and ultimately making major decisions in their lives--and coincidentally meeting at the same table at the airport in the end.

    Sophia Loren plays, naturally, an older lady. Suddenly, she begins compulsively creating beautiful pictures but hides them from everyone. The reason for this is rather mystical but interesting. These pictures are a way for her coming to terms with a daughter she once gave up for adoption. While it was the best thing at the time, she is racked with guilt and failure over this.

    Mira Sorvino plays a photo journalist whose father is also a well-respected photo journalist (Klaus Maria Brandaur). He sees her as a "chip off the old block" after one of her photos makes the cover of Time Magazine. But, for some inexplicable reason she can't remember having taken the picture! Eventually, you figure out why and she is suddenly racked with guilt--should she photograph misery or do something to make a real difference is her dilemma.

    Deborah Kara Unger is an exceptionally talented cellist who has left her husband and young daughter. At the same time, her father (Malcolm McDowell--in a very restrained role) is released from prison after serving over 20 years for murdering Unger's mother. She finds she can't get on with her life and hovers between wanting to kill her dad, or herself or just allow her life to spin out of control--regardless, she is so racked with conflicting feelings she cannot function.

    How all three of these women resolve these dilemmas and deal with their regrets make this a great film. By the way, be sure to have some tissues nearby--you'll probably need them.
  • This movie was better than expected, well acted and the little dramas were sincere. It's got Deborah Kara Unger AND Mira Sorvino plus many other high caliber actors in small parts. But there's some negatives that keep it from greatness.

    The 3 vandals were too disturbing for this kind of film and made me want to twist their necks. No such justice in the movie.

    The connection between the three female leads is too far fetched and virtually non-existent. The ending does not make any sense, why are these 3 women waiting at the same table at the airport, they all have different destinations. The little girl makes no sense other than being a poorly constructed plot device to link the three women. Unnecessary too because this story already has a link between them: they're on a crossroad between the past and the present, up to something new in their life.

    Also, the photographer accidentally meeting with an Angolian, as was mentioned here before, is WAY too coincidental.

    It seems that this kind of storytelling has become popular with Short Cuts and Magnolia, of which the first is by far the best.
  • ChePale27 November 2002
    "First time everything"..is Sophia Loren's closing statement in the movie. A suitable statement that incidentally mirrors Edoardo Ponti's film making debut; his first feature film. The film: technically impeccable (very well shot), touching and deep story, and obviously given a great vote of confidence by the presence of its remarkable cast. Sophia Loren, legendary in her performance as she is as a person, has a lot to celebrate about this film; her 100th and her son's first; a demonsration of success for both mother and son in terms of performance and talent for making a film that has been written and directed very courageously. "First time everything"?... well then...Bravo!
  • Between strangers tells the very loosely connected story of three women, all having lost an important aspect of their lives and the chance to confront their old ghosts.

    The three women are acted by three ages of women; Mira Sorvino, Debra Unger and finally the perennial Sophia Loren looking deliberately dowdy. They are supported by an able cast of some of Europe's actors, representing where the films finances were presumably gathered- Gerard depardieu (France) in an almost cameo appearance, Klaus Marie Brandauer (Germany)as an ambitious photojournalist father, Pete Postlethwaite(UK) as an embittered ex-runner.Add to that Sophia(Italy), Mira(USA) and Debra Unger(Canada) amongst others and this film must have cost more in airfares than any other cost.

    It is the second film by Edoardo Ponti, son of Carlo Ponti and more famously Sophia Loren. He never lets that get in the way of the story and directs her without kid gloves.

    He also wrote the script and, as a second film, it succeeds well with a story that moves along, letting us get to know and empathize with the characters and care what happens.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Between Strangers is about three women who find themselves in an emotional crises with regards to the men that happens to be a big part of their lives.It stars an ensemble cast that includes Sophia Loren,Mira Sorvino,Deborah Kara Unger,Pete Postlethwaite,Klaus Maria Brandauer,Malcolm McDowell and Gérard Depardieu. It was directed by Edoardo Ponti,who happens to be Loren's son.

    Olivia takes care of her husband John,who is on wheelchair.Despite her old age,she still wanted to pursue a career as an artist.But her husband does not want to listen to her stories about it and she finds solace from Max,a French gardener.While Natalia is a news photographer that is assigned to do work in Angola.She took a picture of a child orphaned during war.Her well-known photojournalist father made her famous for it but she is haunted by the fact that she wasn't able to save the child's life.Meanwhile,a musician named Catherine has never resolved her hate towards her father,who killed her mother by beating her to death.When her father was released from prison,she wanted to kill her father.But she does not know that he has changed for the better.

    The film tackles three themes:hope,redemption and forgiveness.This was shown by the three main female characters in Olivia,Natalie and Catherine respectively.Although the story could have been interesting,we get into one cliché after another with the three main female characters trying to fight their own personal demons.Added to that,there were really no great performances due to underdeveloped characters in it despite the fact that we have a talented cast on the film.It was obvious that the film tried to rely on the films famous faces particularly the gorgeous and age-less Sophia Loren.Would she have accepted doing this modest film if her son wasn't the director?
  • toniwebb322 January 2005
    Rented it because I'm a Sophia Loren fan. It's obvious that she got the illustrious cast to sign on so her son would have something to do. He is a bad writer and even worse director. No energy at all in the film, lots of dead space, trite camera angles; the women in the film are colorless, downtrodden, and hopeless. This portrayal of women is surprising since Eduoardo Ponti's mother is the vivacious Sophia Loren. The camera angles are especially unflattering to her. What's up with that? This film is a complete waste of talent considering the big stars in the film. Even after the women make life-altering changes, they still look weepy and pathetic. The script has every cliché in the book.
  • The elements of Between Strangers are impressive. Against the background of a Toronto made beautiful by selectivity, a cast of skilled actors work to fulfil the writer's deep material. The film keeps one's attention thanks to the actors' sensitive work. The director's interweaving of the subplots is often moving, sometimes clumsy. The film also puzzles us with the inexplicable behaviours of some of the characters, and the understatement of some themes that beg for deeper exploration. Nevertheless, a praiseworthy effort. 6.5/10.
  • Between Strangers is a muted, introspective film about several women whose path in life has brought them face to face with emotional obstacles, and carefully explores them with depth and feeling, if admittedly not completely following through on each arc satisfyingly. Sophia Loren (yes, she's still alive!) plays an aging woman who believes in a psychic link between herself and a girl half across the country who she believes to be her long lost daughter. Her abrasive husband (Pete Postlethwaite uses his usual genius to make complex work of a thankless role) thinks she's bonkers. An aspiring journalist (Mira Sorvino continues to prove how criminally underrated she is) suffers a crippling crisis of conscience when her peppy father (Klaus Maria Brandeur) brings her a job that is beyond morally questionable. Finally, in the film's most stirring vignette, a lost, broken woman attempts to confront her estranged father, who killed her mother in a drunken rage decades earlier. Vancouver actress Deborah Kara Unger, who makes a point to daringly seek out roles that most would steer well clear of, is plain heartbreaking, a cello musician who's ultimate chorus is the searing lament and rage towards the hand she has been dealt. Malcolm McDowell is utterly compelling as the father, a man so annihilated by his own actions he can barely stand to be inside his own skin. Their story culminates in a quietly devastating face to face interaction that sets the screen ablaze with cold fire, a sequence both performers should be immensely proud of. The film has its uneven moments, and while neither of the segments has much to do with each other story-wise, they tie nicely together in the sense that here are three women who take a bold, bravely realized look at their own lives, and step off the beaten track of what's expected of them, and even what they've come to expect from themselves, emblazoning important themes of both female independence and reawakening.
  • I caught this on a recent airline flight. I had seen the dreadful reviews given it when it played the Toronto Film Festival so was prepared for appalling schlock. Considering it was Sophia's son's first effort as a director (though admittedly surrounding himself with a stellar cast from Sophia cashing in some major chips)he extracted good performances from everyone. A very light story involving three disparate women is gracefully laced together in the end as they come to their own conclusions as to what their lives should be about. 6 out of 10.
  • Sophia Loren stars as Olivia, the artist. Loren is directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, and so far, they have made FOUR films together. nice to have a leg up on the family business. that's just my envy showing through. Also Mira Sorvino as Nat, the photographer. and Malcom McDowell and Gérard Depardieu, Klaus Brandauer (oscar nominated... look him up!). some heavy hitters. the film begins with a bunch of white, privileged kids busting up a couple local businesses and beating up a homeless guy. Deborah Unger is the musician. each of the ladies has a past, a secret, an issue that is troubling them. and they make decisions that completely alter the course of their lives and careers. the ending was a little disappointing, after that great lead-up, but i'm not sure i could have come up wtih a better one. Beautifully connected stories by Ponti, and a great job of bringing it to the screen. seeing this makes me want to see more of his work. showing on Cinemoi channel. good stuff.
  • Between Strangers is one of the rare movies I've seen that claims to have a woman empowerment message and actually succeeds. Usually, those movies end up saying all women really care about are men, and no matter how strong their characters are supposed to be, they let their lives be ruled by the pursuit of or treatment by men. This movie isn't really my cup of tea, but I certainly liked the consistency and the message.

    Three women have completely separate lives, and each are unhappy in their own ways. Sophia Loren lives with her physically handicapped, emotionally abusive husband, Pete Postlethwaite. Mira Sorvino is following in her father's footsteps but unsure it's the right path for her. Deborah Kara Unger has abandoned her daughter and focuses all her energy on Malcom McDowell, her father recently released from prison. As you can tell, the movie starts out with each woman negatively influenced by a man.

    As the movie progresses, each discover the direction that will start them on the right path. There was a scene that I fast-forwarded through because I felt it was only a vengeful, "wages of sin" scene: Malcom McDowell is homeless, and he gets harassed and beaten up by a bunch of punk teenagers, and it's pretty upsetting. Besides that, if this type of movie appeals to you, you'll probably like it. Look for Klaus Maria Brandauer as Mira's father and Gérard Depardieu as Sophia's confidante in the supporting cast.

    Kiddy Warning: Obviously, you have control over your own children. However, due to violence and adult subject matter, I wouldn't let my kids watch it.

    DLM warning: If you suffer from vertigo or dizzy spells, like my mom does, this movie might not be your friend. About five minutes before the end, after Mira Sorvino drives away, the camera swirls in a big circle to show the building's roof, and that will make you sick. In other words, "Don't Look, Mom!"
  • vitachiel25 June 2007
    Over the top drama. A very boring movie, where every one has way too much grief and sorrow. Keep it small and do not overdo it man. This film is way too far-fetched and unbelievable. Speaking of incredibility: consider the implausible coincidences. Olivia is dreaming of images of which she makes drawings that look exactly like her lost daughter's sculptures. By accident, she then sees this daughter in a very staged television interview. The woman who just made a photo shoot for Time magazine in Angola happens to stumble upon an Angolan woman at the local market. Yeah right. Just to make the story-telling easier I guess.

    None of the actors really outshines here. Famous names, low profiles. The fact that half of the cast is not native English-speaking adds to the very slow-paced, troubled effort in natural acting.

    No irony, no humour, this movie takes itself far too serious. If you're still not sure, just watch the very stupid ending and all that I've said becomes clear. If you would like to watch an intelligent, well-acted parallel lives women's drama, check out 'Things you can tell just by looking at her'.
  • I heartily recommend that you watch this movie for the acting, not the plot. Briefly, this is a half-baked concept, sloppily written around the edges, but the handful of actors in the high-profile roles make it worth renting -- as long as you're not expecting more. The main characters are excellent in their roles, with a supporting cast deserving of award nominations. Sophia Loren does more with few words than most of our cinema stars; the rest of the cast match her well. The supporting actors with not quite too many words walk the fine line between doing too much and too little, and make each arc come alive for the woman in the middle.

    But give up on the plot. The three arcs do not share the common thread stated in the promotional materials. The little girl who appears to each is not a herald of emotional transition; rather, she is Ponti's (writer/director) admission that the preceding scene, supposedly emotional, has a weak ending, just as with the movie's ending (which is more like a cartoon ending than a high-profile movie). The girl is a pop-up window with a tiny banner reading "missing climax".

    I don't insist on having a cheesy Hollywood ending, where all the loose ends are tied up and the main characters are happy. "Between Strangers" simply fails to tie the three stories together. They are not "intertwined". They're paced similarly, but hardly parallel. When the movie finishes at a minor cadence point for each, there's no real feeling of resolution or accomplishment; any of the three could easily return to the previous life. The loose ends left behind are typical for real life -- in fact, none of the three seems to feel any need to clean up any loose ends. They all come off as self-centered, thoughtless people in this respect. (To be honest, several of their loose ends deserve no more.) Still, the plots start in the middle, end at a minor cadence, and don't really develop cleanly on the way. Various minor characters drift in and out, apparently important to the central woman, but the writer never informs us of what they're doing in her life, why she pays so much attention to them.
  • =G=15 January 2004
    "Between Strangers" tells of three women with something in common. They are all laconic, slothlike zombies moving from scene to scene as though they bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. Though this film offers a good cast and execution, it is little more than a trio of short subjects with an unfortunately bland and overly ponderous result lacking the only reason to make one film from three stories; synergism. (C+)
  • I enjoyed attending the North American premiere of "Between Friends" at the Toronto International Film Festival (September 2002), but without the star-studded event -- attended by Sophia Loren, Deborah Kara Unger, Mira Sorvino, Pete Postlethwaite, Director Edoardo Ponti, and others -- the movie would only have been mildly interesting. Comparing the movie with the other films at the festival, I gave it a generous 5 stars and the movie might not have deserved even that. However, I admit that even the worst movie I saw at Film Festival received five stars from me. All the films at the Festival seemed to have a little something, but I just wish this movie had had a little more of that something.

    If readers are interested in seeing a 2002 movie starring several different actresses in the leading roles, I would rather they saw the French movie "8 Femmes" (8 Women) which was a humorous and surprisingly musical mystery directed by François Ozon.

    In contrast, "Between Friends" had its pretty moments, but was rather unsatisfying at the end. Hopefully, director Edoardo Ponti (Sophia Loren's son) will gain more experience and courage, so that he will grow beyond the merely pretty and the merely nice.