SPOILERS. OBVIOUSLY. LOTS OF THEM IN FACT. BASICALLY A SYNOPSIS. WATCH THE MOVIE FIRST IF YOU HAVE TO THEN COME BACK. BUT DO COME BACK.
Film: How To Follow Strangers
Initial Release: October 28th, 2017
Director: Chioke Nassor
Screenplay: Chioke Nassor
Music Composed By: Jesse Novak and Timothy Bright
Producers: Sunanda Sachatrakul and Annie Sloan
Starring: Ilana Glazer and Chris Roberti
Available on Hulu.
I’ll be honest, I picked this movie solely based on the cover. I know, I know. That’s a shitty way to go about picking, well anything. And that’s the type of shit that gets me in trouble or at least really really disappointed. But there was just something about it that just seemed so…cool? The drawing was super interesting and the choice of font is A+.
How to Follow Strangers is an indie film that revolves around two main characters, Ellie played by Ilana Glazer and Casey played by Chris Roberti. Initially, it feels like the film is going to be one of those quirky rom-com’s where these two people constantly keep meeting at the same place at the same time over a course of five days but somehow, something is keeping them apart but eventually they’ll get together and live happily ever after in this unrealistic union. And, I’m really sick of that shit. If I never have to see another movie that follows that formula again, I could live my life fulfilled. Thankfully, I didn’t give up on this film because it was so much more than that.
So, what happens? Well, we see Ellie doing what a lot of us do, trying to run to catch the train for work-just missing it. From across the platform, Casey makes eye contact with her and gestures that she just missed the train. Then, later in the day, she sees him again, at the supermarket following the same pattern as her. The next day, Ellie see’s Casey again this time wearing an outfit similar to hers and they make this sort of mirror joke about it. Later they have a run in at the bookstore and finally have a small conversation about dead grandmas. I wanna mention that in great detail because
this is the most unrealistic part of the movie. Let’s face it, people are not that nice on the subway. The only time anyone has ever motioned to me from across the platform was when this one guy nodded at me then grabbed his dick through his jeans. Uber romantic, let me tell you.
She see’s him the day after that and tries to get his attention but he doesn’t see her. Finally, the two are on the same platform so you kinda build that hope that there will be some resolve. Ellie tries to talk to Casey but he’s crying and rushes to just get on the train, leaving his journal behind. Like any sane person, she takes the journal and reads it. Ellie finds out a shit ton about Casey through his journal. More specifically, she finds out that he’s going through this life crisis about accepting that we’re all gunna die one day. This is prompted by a story that one of Casey’s friends tell him. This woman dies in her apartment and no one finds her for a year. She’s just sitting there, decomposing in a crisp ass Chanel suit with gift wrap and presents around her.
That really sends him on a downward spiral. He starts to wonder if people would notice if he were gone which is what prompts his slight disappearance. This doesn’t sit well with Ellie so she basically begins to stalk him, which in turn starts a friendship/slight romance between the two. She’s not that crazy stalker that’s obsessed with him in a romantic sense. It’s more of an “I wanna make sure you’re okay after finding out about all the stress you’re feeling and I wanna connect with you because I feel you” way. It’s still pretty friggin’ crazy but super relatable. I don’t condone stalking in any way but for the purpose of this movie, you can tell her heart’s in the right place.
There’s this small subplot that I should mention too because it plays a huge role in the end. Ellie is apartment sitting and while doing so, she befriends this old woman who needs her help with household things like changing light bulbs. She finds out that the old woman was married to her husband for like 61 years and it’s this whole beautiful love story where she meets him at this dance with her best friend and she thinks the best friend is in love with him but it turns out he had a twin so they each respectively get married and raise their kids across the hall from each other and blah blah blah. However, she outlives her best friend, her husband’s brother, and her beloved husband.
Okay, back to the main plot.
Eventually, the two hook up and Ellie’s brings him to her house. He finds his journal and loses his shit on her, which is obviously understandable. Casey dips and Ellie is left heart broken. Like any other heartbroken millennial, she gets shitfaced and sleeps with her grody ass co-worker, which she completely regrets. This hook-up causes her to be late to work which sets off a chain reaction of bad events. She gets fired from her canvassing job. Casey still won’t talk to her and the old woman who lives downstairs from her gets offended by a comment that she makes saying that she was lucky when the older woman doesn’t feel lucky that she had to watch her husband die. This makes Ellie feel more like shit so she holes herself up in the apartment. She keeps calling Casey. He keeps ignoring her. The old neighbor calls for her but she ignores it. I guess Ellie hears some commotion and goes to look downstairs to find her neighbor being taken out in a bodybag.
She completely loses her shit and breaks down. Ellie lets Casey know and he finally answers her by coming over. They make up and have the most honest discussion about love and commitment and risk taking.
And then it just ends. We never get a definite answer on whether or not they get together or if they stay together and get that lame ass happy ending that everyone always wants. It was the best ending for this movie.
This movie blew my expectations out of the water. It was a genuine story about wanting to make a connection with someone. It was a love story without being a love story. It was so focused on the development of the characters as individuals that when the two were finally together, I wasn’t pissed off about it. I hate when the only purpose of characters are to just get together. These two were just so developed as individuals that, even though the plot sort of depended on them being together, they were still able to stand alone and push the movie forward. It was so relatable too. There’s one part in the beginning where Ellie starts to go to the train earlier in hopes of seeing Casey across the train platform and I was just like holy shit, that is me. I’ve done that so many times before and I’m not even ashamed to admit it.
It should also be noted that Ilana Glazer is a-friggin-mazing in this film. I’ve only ever seen her in her raunchy comedy state. Seeing her in this serious role has really shown me her versatility as an actress and I am more in love with her if that was even possible.
I recommend this film to anyone who’s jaded and sick of traditional love stories, anyone who is struggling to find a connection to someone and is feeling alone in that struggle. Obviously, watch this film if you’re into indie films. The writing is incredible, honest, and doesn’t try to be something it’s not. Visually, it is great. The coloring is beautiful and it was nice to see places that were familiar to me.
Overall, I’d give this film a 10/10 and I would readily watch anything by the Real Human Films production company. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.