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Strangers in Good Company

1 rating: 5.0
A movie directed by Cynthia Scott

A story about a seven remarkable older women who find themselves stranded in a remote location. Forced to share an abandoned cabin and work together for survival, they turn their escapade into a truly magical adventure.

Director: Cynthia Scott
Release Date: 1991
MPAA Rating: PG
1 review about Strangers in Good Company

Strangers in Good Company - 1990

  • Apr 25, 2010
Rating:
+5
Pros: the unscripted script, the wonderful group of women

Cons: none for me

The Bottom Line:
"And if you hear me talking on the wind
You've got to understand
We must remain
Perfect Strangers"
~Deep Purple


Every once in a while I run across a movie that reminds me why I like films so much. This is what I discovered, once again, with Strangers in Good Company which was directed by Cynthia Scott. She used a unique concept that made it all the more enjoyable. There were no professional actors involved and, basically, no script.

Cynthia, along with writers Sally Bochner and Gloria Demers, devised a plan for a busload of elderly women, traveling through the Canadian countryside, to make a detour to visit the childhood home of one of the women. The bus they are traveling on, decrepit at best, was driven by a young black woman [the only true professional in the group as she is a jazz singer in real life]. The bus breaks down half way to their destination and 20 miles from the nearest town.

As the film opens we see a group of women walking out of a dense fog, purses on their arms, hats tipped at the proper angle, sturdy shoes. They aren’t glamorous women by any shot but they hold an intense beauty that unravels like peeling an onion, a layer at a time. Realizing they may be stuck for the night, they spread their meager edibles between them: a pack of gum, an apple, orange, hard boiled egg, and part of a sandwich.

Two have stayed behind with the bus. One, prim and proper, sits serenely waiting for the repairs. She exudes an aura of old money and one that is accustomed to having people “do for her”. The other is buried elbow deep under the hood of the bus with a repair manual propped up to guide her. We discover later she is a nun [in real life as well].

As the women totter about on the abandoned homestead, they find pans and buckets, musty old mattresses, and moth eaten blankets. But to them it is heaven and they set about making their place as comfortable as possible for however long they will be in residence, even placing a perky bouquet of flowers on the window ledge.

As it turns out the homestead isn’t the beguiling place that Mary remembered, although she often sees it as it used to be. This confused me at first until I realized she was seeing it as it was in her childhood, not the shell it had become.

When, by the second day, the bus appeared impossible for Catherine to repair, she decides since she is the most fit, she will travel the 20 miles by foot to obtain help. This required a little more substance that a hunk of apple or piece of gum, so the women took to resources they weren’t aware they possessed. They captured frogs and fish, preparing several meals, adorned by berries picked from the wild bushes.

During the entire film the women were put in situations they were all unfamiliar with. Coupled to that, they are in the company of 7 women they don’t know at all. That is the beauty of this film. The writers and directors gave a general concept to the women, before each scene, then they ad-libbed the script, telling stories taken from their own lives. None of the women are beaten or broken, like so many of these types of movies, but they do have complex stories to unravel.

Winifred divulges she used to belly dance and has a outing leading the women in exercise. Alice, a Mohawk Indian, tells stories of her past and confesses a fear of frogs [she didn’t partake of the frog meal naturally]. Mary, the artist, admits to Cissy she is a lesbian, which leads to quite an entertaining conversation.

The stories the women tell are true accounts from their own lives. They are not scripted or edited. They are open, often poignant, often humorous. But it is life unfolding before you in a delicate manner between strangers who become friends.

The filming was quite nice with many beautiful points of scenery, including the murky, fog filled segments. Cinematographer David De Volpi captured not only the beauty of the countryside but the underlying beauty of these women.

The film was nominated for 9 awards, winning four. The cast of wonderful women that joined together, some reluctantly at first according to the interviews on the extras, includes:
Alice Diabo, Constance Garneau, Winifred Holden, Cissy Meddings, Mary Meigs, Catherine Roche, Michelle Sweeney, and Beth Webber. At filming, with the exception of Michelle, the women averaged an age of 75.

If you enjoy filmmaking for the purity of detail, then you owe it to yourself to join this company of strangers.

Thanks,
Susi

This is my submission to the captainD Good Movies Write-Off 3

Recommended:
Yes

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