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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.08%
Worth A Look: 14.58%
Average: 8.33%
Pretty Bad: 25%
Total Crap50%

5 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Perfect Stranger
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Yeah I’m Your Father – Go Put Some Clothes On!"
2 stars

Before the screening of the new psychosexual investigative thriller with a twist flick, Perfect Stranger, my colleagues and I were at a loss at remembering the last film that director James Foley had been behind. We had no trouble recalling a career marked as high as Glengarry Glen Ross and as low as Who’s That Girl?, but we’d be damned if Foley’s last project wasn’t resting just underneath our cynical tongues. There was a nice back and forth about the potential for his latest. Would it be a new high, a new low or something guiltily flavored pleasure the likes of which Foley could succeed as evidenced by the Mark Wahlberg/Reese Witherspoon thriller, Fear. It wasn’t until a quick snoop at home on the IMDB refreshed the ol’ memory of Foley’s last non-triumph, the obviously completely forgettable, Confidence. I’m sure it won’t take another four years to forget Perfect Stranger as well.

Halle Berry plays Rowena, an undercover investigative reporter for a NY paper who sidelines herself after her recent unearthing of a politician with a secret is buried thanks to leaks and dollar bills. Nice time for a visit from her childhood friend, Grace (Nicki Aycox), who drops an exclusive in her lap. She’s been sleeping with Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis), the most powerful advertising executive, who, when not organizing Victoria’s Secret campaigns is doing some naughty chatting online. OK, so not much of an exclusive for Rowena. Not until Grace turns up poisoned and drowned. And Rowena is on the case.

With help from her loyal, horny and unrequited research assistant, Miles (Giovanni Ribisi), Rowena saddles up for a temp job in Hill’s head office. Luckily the temp agency had a spot for a newbie at a company paranoid about leak-prone hires. Hill is no dummy, noticing the tight curves that the director all but gives us a 3-D experience of during one of her dressing montages. Miles even sets her up with an online account to get her acquainted with chatting; something a top journalist would seem somewhat familiar with given that Chris Hansen’s To Catch a Predator is a sweeps staple on television. Rowena and Hill get chummy, but how far is she willing to go to prove that he’s the murderer?

That’s just the kind of line someone like Hill would have used if he specialized in cinema promos and is no doubt the setup that will be used by many a quote whore and unsophisticated reviewers in an attempt to challenge your guessing skills right up to the very last frame. Certainly there are twists upon twists, each one less earth-shattering than the next if you’ve seen ANY of the previews put together by Sony’s agency. Hill has secrets. Miles has secrets. Grace has secrets. Even Rowena is haunted by the daddy that molested her, but not enough to feel completely sexually damaged. By the time you get to the final twist, the screenplay has run out of characters to point fingers at and serves up an ending so laughably executed that it makes no difference how fair the narrative has played with the audience.

The only way Perfect Stranger can save itself is to live up to the lurid tale of twisting sexual indiscretions a la Basic Instinct or Wild Things. And it’s not just the ads. Every scene is an invitation for taboo including adultery, voyeurism, dirty talk, dirty photography, online porn and S&M. But no one has the stones to provide a climax for any of it. If we discovered the big twist was that every male in the film was impotent, that would at least have made more sense than establishing Willis’ assistant (Dutch model Daniella Van Graas) as a tough-as-balls, leggy lesbian who dons the leather but not the whip to prove to us she’s the one not to be messed with. Foley and screenwriter Todd Komarnicki give us an entire sequence dedicated to Rowena’s newly-found online plaything as if they were Al Gore showing us this new communications tool they invented. Twenty years ago Albert Brooks was joking about “blowing the lid off nookie”, but Perfect Stranger treats sexuality like a blurred-out adult channel with no sound. I realize it may take an extra half-mil for Halle to show the twins, but it only costs you ten bucks for the blue balls.

Bruce Willis is mildly entertaining since he possesses a devil-may-care attitude derived, one suspects, from knowing he’s nothing but a prop demoted to what is really a third-billed role behind Berry and Ribisi. The latter’s lust for his co-star nearly belongs in its own sub-genre and he manages to be the only character with any life to him. Berry, by all accounts, looks amazing in every scene but contrasts her cleveage with a recurring flatness in her acting skills that exists in a limbo between boredom and over-the-top. It’s unclassifiable. Just like Perfect Stranger. It’s a thriller without a mince of suspense. It’s a sexual undercurrent where the only nudity that washes up is, appropriately, a corpse. You have to sift through 100+ minutes of nonsense to get to the only surprise the ads promise, but haven’t coughed up. A better ending would have been a behind-the-scenes when Foley realizes that Todd Komarnicki is really the pen name of Ravadem Patel providing further proof that the director hasn’t had his hand on a Glengarry lead since 1992.

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originally posted: 04/13/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

3/25/18 morris campbell not bad but nothing special 4 stars
6/03/09 mr.mike It was no bad (on cable), didn't see the ending coming- and Berry was hot. 4 stars
4/24/08 carmen ending stinks!!! 3 stars
1/10/08 Matt Keeps you guessing and produces an unexpected twist. Actually, it's pretty damn good. 4 stars
11/13/07 AgetnOrange Daniella van Graas was the only bright spot - shows promise 4 stars
9/08/07 S +1 on bad ending... acting could b better 2 4 stars
7/20/07 Wendy Donnellson Jeez -- Halle Berry sure thinks her doodoo doesn't stink in this one! 1 stars
7/18/07 Daphne Sterling Totally muddled about everything except the fact that it is lurid garbage! 1 stars
7/03/07 William Goss A pathetic 'thriller' whose tedium only grows until its moronic climax. 1 stars
5/24/07 ES It was alright, Giovanni Ribisi is great in any role 4 stars
5/09/07 David Pollastrini The TV show was better... oh wait... 3 stars
4/21/07 Gracie Great mystery film!!! Great twist at the end of the movie! Best Halle & Bruce film yet! 5 stars
4/20/07 Lauren I liked it, but a little strange 3 stars
4/19/07 Megs Sucked more than 99.9% of things could ever aspire to sucking. 1 stars
4/16/07 Peg I was ok with the ending....until it showed a man looking through a window. Very confusing 3 stars
4/15/07 Vince Horrible, ending.. Very contrived film. 1 stars
4/14/07 a random guy very good 4 stars
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  13-Apr-2007 (R)
  DVD: 21-Aug-2007

  13-Apr-2007 (15)

  19-Apr-2007 (M)

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