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Strangers in Good Company (The Comfort of Strangers)

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I was lucky enough to live in Québec for a few years when I was a teenager. But I'm well aware that it's pretty far off the beaten track for most people. So, Strangers in Good Company is a chance to see a little of what it's like. Sure, you could watch Jésus de Montréal, an urban tale which came out the same year (and you probably should), but for rural atmosphere Strangers is hard to beat.

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First of all, I should warn you this is not a conventional movie. If you're a Die Hard kind of moviegoer, it probably isn't for you. It's slow, gentle, emotional, sweet, and more than a little quirky. It never made a big splash at the box office, but those who have seen it love it.

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Even though it's fictional, it stars non-actors, and most of the dialog is improvised around a loose script, giving the extraordinary women a chance to let their own personalities shine through.

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Strangers isn't an opportunity to see a vast swathe of the province. In fact, it only shows a small patch, a remote lake near, I believe, Boileau, Huberdeau, possibly Lac des Seize Iles. The story unfolds when a bus carrying eight women, mostly elderly, breaks down in the wilderness. They find an abandoned house and pass the time until help arrives.

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The ladies occupy the landscape around them. Unsure whether they will ever leave it, they build beds out of grass bundles and forage for food. They catch frogs for dinner and set up fishing traps using their pantyhose.

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They also stand, looking out over the lake, across the hills, into the starry night, contemplating life, and even imminent death. There's a stillness in the environment that echoes the stillness of the age they have almost all reached. There's no sense of danger, but a quiet hum of endless calm, cocooned in mist.

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As far as I can tell, the movie was shot in the Laurentides, just north of Montréal, a region of the province well-known for its ski resorts and hiking. It's not the Rocky Mountain terrain many are used to. It's more gentle terrain, wooded, perfect for cross-country skiing and sugaring off. Great Canadian pastimes. – Roshan McArthur

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  • Jinko

    March 26, 2013

    A lovely and pleasant change of pace for a movie because you cannot pigeon hole it. I so enjoyed it, and salute each and every individual involved in bringing this to the screen for us to enjoy.

  • bobbie

    November 12, 2008

    It is a really worthwhile movie..and yes the landscape is one of the main characters!

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