A Stranger of Mine needs to be seen by a patient audience.
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The first half hour is a standard boy-meets-girl story. It’s nice, and charming, but not particularly well produced. I almost decided not to finish watching the movie.
That would have been a shame because the second half-hour is a detective story, and the third half-hour is a post-modern gangster flick, where Yakuza worry about the economics of murder.
But the best thing about A Stranger of Mine is that all three of these stories are intertwined, a la Pulp Fiction, in a complex, funny web. The friend of the “boy” from the first part is the detective in the second part, and the Yakuza are more closely tied to both of them than anyone had suspected.
The movie is ultimately enjoyable for its story, but because it often fails to engage, the whole film suffers. It will be more enjoyable in a crowded festival screening, but an even better film would insist on being watched, right from the start. A Stranger of Mine is good, but it’s also a lost opportunity for something better.