What makes The Stranger work is how this all creates an experience that feels as though the two men have become almost doomed to a life where they will aimlessly wander in what feels like an Australian purgatory. Whether they ever manage to escape and uncover some sort of closure is irrelevant to the growing rot that threatens to consume their souls no matter what they do.
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Screen Daily by Fionnuala Halligan
Wright crafts a hyper-elaborate set-up and delicate drip-feed of information which make spoilers an equal crime, but The Stranger is more of a felt experience than a traditional policier; it’s all about the hunt, not the crime.
The film finds a little verve; Edgerton is put through the imagined ringer in a handful of unnerving dream sequences, and a motif featuring the mountainous crime scene is interesting (until it isn’t). But for all of the interesting twists and turns, as the story comes to its smoky conclusion, one can’t imagine who in the audience will make it to the payoff.
The Hollywood Reporter by Leslie Felperin
Assembled with seemingly deliberate disjointed editing that scrambles the time line, and shot through with unsettling shock cuts backed by Oliver Coates discordant, droning minimalist score, The Stranger definitely feels like an elevated genre exercise — more challenging than the average crime drama but also more interesting.
The Guardian by Luke Buckmaster
The Stranger avoids both neat explanations and contrived ambiguity, when narrative pieces are shuffling around to confuse audiences.
The Stranger confirms that Wright has arrived, even if his treatment sometimes feels more oblique and self-consciously arty than the material demands.
Featuring great performances from its two incredibly bearded leading men, and bosting a twist that offers something truly unique to the true crime genre, The Stranger takes loose inspiration from a true story to deliver a bleak yet subdued thriller. Sadly, the film banks everything on this reveal, which recontextualizes everything that came before but deflates all the tension.
It’s the kind of thriller that only comes along every once in a while – truly unsettling and with enough twists and turns to not only keep you interested but on your toes.
IndieWire by Sophie Monks Kaufman
This is a curious, slightly underwhelming offering. Even so, falling flat as a result of being understated to a fault is a promising event in a genre dominated by obvious signposting, and Wright is certainly one to watch for the future.