The Stranger: Finally, a thriller worth the description

Joel Edgerton in The Stranger.
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Thomas M. Wright's directoral debut delivers a film worth making an effort for. Taran Pannu reports.

FILM REVIEW
The Stranger
Run time: 1h 57mins
Who: Thomas M. Wright (writer/director), Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris
Where: Netflix and selected cinemas
Rating: 5/5 stars


In his directorial debut, Australian actor Thomas M. Wright has crafted an electrifying thriller that will shake you to your core. The film is at its absolute best when you know next to nothing about the plot, so there will be no spoilers, not even a full plot reveal within this review.

This pulse-pounding thriller follows two strangers who have a chance meeting and we see their relationship develop as we come to understand neither is who they say they are. Following his brilliant supporting turn in Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives, Joel Edgerton takes the lead as Mark, a man under immense pressure and psychological duress as he meets Henry, played by the incredible character actor Sean Harris.

Both performances are among the finest of the year, with incredibly nuanced and subtle character work being threaded through the entire story which deserves a secondary watch to see their masterful craft at work.

The Stranger: Finally, a thriller worth the description
Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris in the film.

Wright’s screenplay is incredibly lean, knowing when exactly to enter the scene and when to exit. Simon Njoo also deserves credit for this as the film editor: the film’s first hour is beyond breathtaking, with the story moving at such a pace that it leaves you gasping for air.

Wright’s assured direction is astonishing for a debut – the astute camera work and his understanding that he has two of the finest actors working today allows the film to juggle the difficult act of being a rapid thriller and a weighty character exploration.

But perhaps the biggest influence over the film’s success is the incredible sound design. While the film is out on Netflix, I’d urge you to see this film on the biggest screen possible. The sound design is a character of its own in this film. Again, it’s hard to explain further without giving away plot details, but it encapsulated the character’s terror and paranoia. 

The Stranger: Finally, a thriller worth the description

Every year, so-called thrillers are released that provide next-to-no thrills, but once in a blue moon something like The Stranger comes along that deserves the utmost praise, not just for its brilliant stars Edgerton and Harris, but for genuinely crafting a thriller that will leave you watching over your shoulder.