The Stranger Image

The Stranger

By Bobby LePire | May 28, 2024

Writer-director Sanjay Prasad’s debut film is the ambitious The Stranger. The dramatic mystery follows Rahul (Trishaan Maini), a handsome journalist at a crossroads. His boss, Veer (Digvijay Singh), wants Rahul to morally compromise a bit in order to make for a better overall story. This is not the first time such a thing has occurred, but it is the last. Rahul quits, which gives him time to focus on the book he’s aspiring to write.

Rahul’s personal life is also in turmoil as his girlfriend waltzes back into it. This confuses the young man, as Tina (Kristine Zedek) walked out on him a week ago. Everything coming at him so fast sends the lead on an inner quest to figure himself out better. His journey culminates in meeting the enigmatic Stranger (Keith Dallison), who seeks to help Rahul in a most unusual way.

The Stranger is billed as “dialogue-driven.” As such, going in, I was expecting something like The Big Kahuna or Clerks, where people are just talking for 90 or so minutes. Well, that is not the case at all. Please don’t misconstrue that statement and think the lines are bad. Most of the dialogue is realistic and makes sense in context. The story structure amps up Rahul’s frustrations believably, and once the titular character comes into play, the surreal nature of everything that follows works.

“…Veer wants Rahul to morally compromise a bit in order to make for a better overall story.”

Prasad’s direction encompasses a vast canvas, showcasing the urban beauty of the cityscape. However, it’s Sameer Shrivastava’s camera work and visual artistry created by the filmmaker’s visual effects that truly shine, particularly in the vivid dreams, nightmares, hallucinations, and visions that Rahul experiences. A mermaid suspended on a colossal hook is a sight to behold. The flashes of images that invade Rahul’s mind are as unsettling for the audience as they are for him. While the dialogue is crucial, the film’s impressive visuals should not be overlooked.

Maini handles the heavy emotions the story asks of him impressively. Atop a mountain, Rahul yells to his parents, venting years of pent-up frustrations. The actor sells every broken memory and emotional distance he experienced. Tina’s wish-washy ways could’ve become annoying, as she seemingly toys with her significant other. But Zedek is effortlessly charming and turns her role into a complicated figure. Dallison is fantastic as the Stranger, but the less about him, the better as to avoid spoilers.

The Stranger is a captivating and distinct film. The cast delivers commendable performances, and the story structure is masterfully crafted. The visuals are breathtaking, creating a dream-like atmosphere that perfectly complements the plot. In summary, this is a fascinating and immersive debut that establishes Prasad as a filmmaker worth anticipating.

For more information, visit the official The Stranger Facebook page.

The Stranger (2024)

Directed and Written: Sanjay Prasad

Starring: Trishaan Maini, Kristine Zedek, Keith Dallison, Digvijay Singh, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Stranger Image

"…captivating and distinct..."

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