The Stranger




Based loosely on a real-life case of the disappearance and murder of a young Australian boy in 2003, Thomas Wright’s intense and unsettling The Stranger envelops audiences in the dark shadows of Australia where one undercover detective risks his sanity to catch an elusive drifter.

The Stranger is not a traditional policier–it’s more about the hunt than the crime.

Joel Edgerton, an underestimated actor, anchors the proceedings with his intense and brooding presence. The actor, and the Australian crime setting, will be the main draw for this portrait of everyday evil which bows in Un Certain Regard at Cannes Fest 2022.

Nobody better to convey evil, either, than British actor Sean Harris conveys evil effectively with his crooked features contorted into a waxy shapeshifter.

Wright’s first film, Acute Misfortune, was also a tense portrait of a relationship between two men, although the writer and artist there could hardly be more different to the drifter and pursuer here.

The Sunshine Coast murder of 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe and the subsequent hunt for this body and killer was the largest Australia had ever mounted.

The tale starts on the Glass House Mountains, with police conducting a forensic search, and violently jump cuts back in time, to the dark interior of a bus at night.

The drifter Henry (Harris), who seems solitary and hard, befriends Paul (Mouzakis), a petty criminal who, eventually, introduces him to Mark (Edgerton), a bag man for a local crime syndicate. ‘I don’t do violence,’ says Henry, when he’s offered the job as Mark’s ride along after Paul is ‘relocated’. ‘Just tell me the truth,” says Mark.

Both are lying: Mark is an undercover investigator, part of a huge sting operation, while Henry has violence in his past.

There is no gore or violence here, no bodies, no morgue scenes, but the stakes are high as Mark starts to crack under the pressure and the ‘Mr Big’ sting operation fractures.

Though rather long in running time, the film winds to a conclusion which Wright leaves open–deliberately so, one assumes.

Cinematographer Sam Chiplin makes distinctive frames out of the shadows, the greys and the duns and the tobacco lighting, cut with editing from Simon Njoo which isn’t afraid to dislocate the viewer.


Production companies: See Saw, Anonymous Content, Blue Tongue Films

Producers: Joel Edgerton, Rachel Gardner, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Kerry Kohansky-Roberts, Kim Hodgert

Screenplay: Thomas M. Wright, based on ‘The Sting’ by Kate Kyriacou

Production design: Leah Pope

Editing: Simon Njoo

Cinematography: Sam Chiplin

Music: Oliver Coates

Main cast:

Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Ewen Leslie, Jada Alberts, Cormac Wright, Steve Mouzakis