A vivid immediacy gives way to banal dramatics in Arielle Javitch’s disappointing debut, “Look, Stranger.” While the initially impressive opening section suggests a purely cinematic depiction of one woman’s drive to survive in an unnamed war, the momentum and aesthetics aren’t sustained, resulting in a ho-hum wartime scenario. Anamaria Marinca (“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”) dominates, but her role’s dimensions shrink with each progressive sequence. Commercial future is bleak on every platform except DVD, where Marinca’s name can be exploited.

Attempting to flee a war zone in what looks like Bosnia or Serbia (latter was the actual lensing location), a nameless woman (Marinca) barely eludes an ambush and hides out in a town. Accompanied by a child (Valentina Berisa) who becomes a pretentious symbol of her past, she ends up in the control of a gruff courier (a bland Tom Burke) who glumly leads her across the bleak landscape. Boredom sets in as Javitch’s script runs out of ideas and tension, despite scenes involving landmines, rape and a highway crash. English dialogue proves distracting, since the action does not take place in an English-speaking territory.

Look, Stranger


  • Production: A Muskat Framed Properties and Narwhale Prods. presentation in association with Work in Progress and A Atalanta Films. (International sales: Visit Films, New York.) Produced by Lisa Muskat, Snezana Penev, Arielle Javitch. Co-producers, Branislav Srdid, Andjelka Vlaisavljevic. Directed, written by Arielle Javitch.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), Michael Simmonds; editor, Travis Sittard; production designer, Nevena Mijuskovic; costume designer, Claudia Hill. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 15, 2010. Running time: 85 MIN.
  • With: With: Anamaria Marinca, Tom Burke, Valentina Berisa. (English dialogue)
  • Music By: