More often than not, sibling rivalry is more than just an emotional or metaphysical "thing" that exists in the ether when your brother 15, good looking and getting all the girls, and you're 10, spotty and playing world of warcraft. It's more than just about tastes and differences in personality.

When watching Mistaken for Strangers, this is obvious to see. The problem is that the world "rivalry" connotes something more explicit, but this film shows is that it's an implicit product of a whole host of things - something less tangible.

The Berninger Brothers might have been born into the same circumstance, but ultimately lead totally different lives a good 40 odd years after they came into this world - a world that seems to have gifted Matt Berninger with the fame, fortune and good will of being in one of the most successful bands, The National, which might have precipitated a semi-stable "white picket fence" personal existence, or might have been the result of a natural confidence that he'd had as the 'older brother'.

Tom Berninger has more soul searching to do - and this is the crux of the movie. The less successful, single, childless brother, who seems to have gone through his life being mollycoddled, excused but ultimately rebellious when told what to do by. It meant that he had little confidence in himself and his decisions when growing up, but that he's now coming to realise that the world is unrepentant and unforgiving when you don't have some aspects of your life in order at the age of 34.

Mistaken For Strangers is at times funny, but at times damning expose of what tension truly looks like - how years of sly comments, side looks and judgement manifest into adulthood; a somewhat classic story of "rivalry", but yet a very 21st century look into what success and failure means - and how everything is magnified when you're living in your brothers garage, while he's away, playing shows, selling out the Alexandra Palace.

I spoke to Tom and Matt Berninger about the film - how they felt about the reviews, what they thought they'd learnt from it. Ultimately, they seem to be better from it...

How are you feeling about everything - in terms of how it's been reviewed?

Tom Berninger: I was expecting a few better reviews, no just kidding - I wasn't expecting anything. It makes me more nervous that it's getting good reviews. Wasn't prepared for that, it was really great - and I feel really lucky.

As I was watching it, it seems a lot like a diary entry - did you have to get used to the idea that you were exposing yourself?

TM: I never prepared, and it is very much like a diary. I wasn't prepared for what that means for the rest of my life. Making the music was such a last minute thing, I never had the chance to think like 'oh shit, there's a lot of me in here' until it was already done and had been screened. A year after it was screened, I feel a little embarrassed about things, a little confused.

And how about you Matt?

Matt Berninger: I got used to being exposed, in our music a long time ago. It shows some unflattering stuff, you know about my temper and whatever, but I'm ok with that. I'm more used to it. If anyone's seen us live, they see me lose my shit all the time on stage so what happens in the movie is just more of the same. At the time it was new, and it's a pretty intimate movie - but I really like the move so it doesn't bother me at all.

Maybe people take away the fact that you aren't to precious about those moments and that you want to portray yourselves in an honest light...? There are documentaries that you see that are a bit too doctored...

TB: I never really watched any rock documentaries - in fact my brother would yell at me for not watching them so I have no frame of reference on that point. But I felt like - not that this is my last chance - but I felt like I had a big opportunity to make the best thing I could make.

MB: ...but you did take a chance though.

TB: Yeah I did, but I always say this corny thing like I wanted it to be the best movie, or the worst possible movie. At least that's memorable. I just wanted to make something that was funny and sad.

MB: ...which wasn't so hard because you were funny and sad. [laughs]

What was is it that you took away? Did you change?

TB: I feel much more comfortable with being myself. I feel like people know me a bit more - it's somewhat of an edited exaggeration of me slightly, but it's still me.

Photo courtesy of the artist.
"Mistaken For Strangers delves into the joys and struggles of brotherhood."

And if it hadn't got such good reviews do you reckon you'd have been more self-conscious about it?

TB: Yeah, no - that would have sucked, big time! [laughs]

MB: But, you realise the people are reviewing the film and not you - so they might not think you're a total asshole. [laughs]

TB: Very true! [laughs]

And how is your relationship now, after the film?

TB: I live in his garage still - it's nice, I have free internet and free access to his HBO GO, so...

MB: I learnt to respect him as a person rather than a little brother. I've stopped trying to shape him. That's been a good growth for us as brothers.

TB: Seeing The National, and see how hard my brother has worked - I feel I learnt that you just have to work hard.

MB: I don't think anyone is naturally successful or confident - I just think you have to do those things that you hate doing as they're the ones that are worth it.

TB: I think fear - I was 30, I didn't give a shit anymore. I was funny, the stuff I shot worked out well, and the poignant thoughts I had. It freed me up. I started liking myself.

Will there be a part two? Does it need a succession?

MB: I want him to make a TV show, make it into a constant, flowing thing.

TB: ... I'm thinking about it.


Mistaken For Strangers is released on June 27th. For advanced screening information, head here.