Toronto True Crime Film Festival Review: “The Stranger” (2017) ★★★★★

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Most documentaries that attempt to recreate any event that occured in real life are amazingly intriguing to watch. But how many of them bring real documentary subjects to play themselves? And that’s where the challenging part begins for any filmmaker to keep the viewer’s attention focused throughout the film, have the facts straight and deliver it in a way which blurs the difference between fiction and real life and that is what “The Stranger” is about.

Amanda is a single mother who one day receives a message from a woman on Facebook that tries to play the role of a matchmaker. It was leading to Casper Kastrupt from the Augustinos family, the grandson of a “wealthy man” whose empire he may inherit one day. Not suspecting anything, Amanda allows herself to get into a relationship with the man she barely knew. But him being super nice, attractive, intelligent, wickedly funny, the woman begins enjoying her romantic affair with Casper for two whole months until she begins realizing that the man who she wakes up next to every morning is not who she assumes him to be.

Based on a true story, director Nicole N. Horanyi begins her interview with Amanda who throughout the film recreates her step by step relationship with Casper (played by actor) all the way till she learns the devastating truth. It all begins with an innocent text messages from which Amanda slowly becomes attached to the stranger. Then, Casper’s relatives or friends start approaching Amanda as they want to know who one of the richest men dates with or if they can trust a random woman who might be more interested in Casper’s money than in his persona.

Strangely, the cards will be laid out differently, but the alarming signs that everything about him or what he says is super strange emerges on the first day of their date when he has a long argument with his mother over the phone to challenge her in his choice to date with the love of his life. As everything would appear so awfully romantic, Amanda obviously finds it strange why on earth the man has to discuss his girlfriend who is in a different room with his Mom who clearly wanted to oppose such a poor choice. But as you become more familiar with Amanda’s story, it will all make sense in the end.

In conclusion, “The Stranger” is one of those rare documentary films that you will never get bored watching. As it revolves around a true crime, the filmmaker had a great strategy in place to tell the story so flawlessly. Incredibly engaging, this film truly turns the hour and a half journey into a devastating and shocking world of scam how one person so cleverly is able to execute not only by fooling the system, but ordinary people as well, through charm and ability to convince their eyes to see what common sense would have outrightly rejected.

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