Canadian filmmaker Cynthia Scott, whose dance documentaries include the award-winning FLAMENCO AT 5:15, makes an impressive feature debut with STRANGERS IN GOOD COMPANY, a naturalistic, partly improvised drama of old age.
After their tour bus breaks down and their driver sprains her ankle, seven elderly women find themselves stranded in the Quebec countryside. The group includes a shy Mohawk woman, a free thinker, a literary lesbian and an irrepressible woman from Dorset named Cissy. Six of them set out to find
shelter, while the other two remain behind to see if they can fix the bus. In the isolated country they come across a deserted farmhouse. "What a dump," declares one of the women as they explore their surroundings. Back at the bus, Catherine, a lay nun with a talent for auto repairs examines the
condition of the bus and shakes her head in despair. Meanwhile, the other women have discovered some blankets in an old trunk and promptly set up housekeeping.
Forced to interact with each another, the ladies explore their surroundings, set up their sleeping spaces for the night and share the small amount of food on hand--some fruit and the remnants of a sandwich left from their outing. To heal Michelle's bruised ankle, the Mohawk woman prepares herbs
that she has gathered for a poultice. This remedy, she reveals, was passed down by her grandmother. Before long, the sun sets and the moon rises. The ladies, frightened by the unfamiliar night sounds, build a fire for warmth and light. Sitting around the campfire, songs from their past come to
mind and they start singing. Michelle sings the blues, Catherine a religious song. When asked her occupation, she replies "I'm married to God." The group is startled to discover her vocation, since she's in civilian clothes. What is it like to be married to God? "Heaven," she replies. They pass
the night exchanging memories.
The next morning, each woman finds an activity to keep herself busy, gathering food or fishing. Two of them go for a walk in the tall grass and settle down to birdwatch. The nun returns to the bus, hoping this time to fix it. The women begin to exchange their life stories. Another night passes.
They are still optimistic, their good spirits buoyed by the positive attitudes of the other members of the group. The nun, having failed to fix the bus, sets off to get help. After the third night a rescue plane arrives to take them back to civilization. As they depart the companions look back at
the house and say goodbye--thankful for the rich experience they have shared.
STRANGERS IN GOOD COMPANY offers no pat conclusions or weepy catharsis. Instead, it mines the personal experiences of these disparate individuals, revealing an unexpected commonality that binds them. As a result, their hearts and minds unfurl. The ensemble, comprised entirely of non-professionals
who portray themselves, includes Alice Diablo, Constance Garneau, Winifred Holden, Cissy Meddings, Mary Meigs, Catherine Roche, Michelle Sweeney and Beth Webber. The film packs an emotional wallop by simply exploring the interaction of these women, and provides a surprising amount of drama.
Director of photography David De Volpi brings the pristine countryside to the screen with an able assist from the expert technical crew. You can almost smell the grass.
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: PG
- Review: Canadian filmmaker Cynthia Scott, whose dance documentaries include the award-winning FLAMENCO AT 5:15, makes an impressive feature debut with STRANGERS IN GOOD COMPANY, a naturalistic, partly improvised drama of old age. After their tour bus breaks down… (more)