While it might lack overall believability, The Kindness of Strangers does share some authentic moments. It reminds me that we have no idea what people going through, and we should always choose kindness.
Clara (Zoe Kazan) has escaped an abusive husband and arrives in New York City with her two boys in tow. Calling it a “vacation,” she attempts to keep them both positive while stealing food from a local restaurant and sleeping in the car. It’s a slow start, and frankly hard to fathom that she gets away with all she is doing. But her optimism and spirit are charming, and I was drawn to Kazan’s performance.
Her storyline continues, we meet other New Yorkers who have their own dramatic situations to deal with. Alice (Andrea Riseborough) is an under-appreciated nurse who also runs a support group out of a local church. She frequents a restaurant run by Timofey (Bill Nighy) that is in need of a new manager before it goes under. Enter Marc (Tahar Rahim), who just happens to be in the right place at the right time and “knows how to run a restaurant.” Meanwhile Marc may have done something bad (he was in jail after all) and attends Alice’s support group with his lawyer friend Jay. You see where this is going.
As expected, all of these strangers end up with their lives crossing paths. They continue to make choices each day that point toward a new direction – a new start. And now, they’re considering one another as they move forward. Interestingly, there is a sort of sedative calmness to each of them, even as they navigate through their troubles. It’s as if finding someone new to focus their good energy in a helpful way moves them beyond the bad stuff that’s happening.
I still think about this movie days later- so that’s saying something. But I can’t say it gave me any real new feelings. A lot of the hide and survive in New York with Clara and her boys just didn’t seem realistic. Love Bill Nighy and thought his lines were some of the best. It’s sentimental and sweet, with great acting, good choices, and second chances.