Perfect Stranger

"Weak"

Perfect Stranger Review


Perfect Stranger brings us to the end of an era: Halle Berry finally sports nice hair. Gone is the too-close crop of Swordfish and Die Another Day, the single-mom bangs of Monster's Ball, and that white Storm hair that just didn't work, no matter how often it was reshaped. In Perfect Stranger, as ball-busting investigative journalist Rowena, she wears it up, down, pulled back, always looking great, as if making up for lost glamour time.

Of course, the filmmakers behind Perfect Stranger would probably be insulted by my focus on hairstyle. They've made a movie, not an US Weekly article, with two big stars and a twist-heavy story, and I'm sure they'd rather I discuss more important aspects than Halle Berry's hair, such as Halle Berry's body or Halle Berry's frequent and slinky costume changes.

They can't claim to care much about the movie itself; they hired Bruce Willis just to stand around and look sleazy. Willis can be a subtle and resourceful actor when he needs to, but is faced with no such necessity in the role of Harrison Hill an ultra-powerful ad executive who may have killed a model -- Berry's chlidhood friend -- after an affair gone bad.

To investigate this possibility, Berry -- fresh from quitting her job with a New York Post-like paper after they put the kibosh on her congressional sex-scandal story -- goes undercover not just as a temp at said ad agency, but online, too. With the help of her nerdy, possibly alcoholic tech-savvy sidekick (Giovanni Ribisi), she tracks down Harrison's AOL-like screen name and engages in some steamy, anonymous instant-messaging. Supposedly this is how Harris met the dead girl, too, bringing about an intra-screenplay competition: Is it less plausible that such a power player would meet his mistresses online, or that said online mistresses would turn out to be models?

But the chief source of Perfect Stranger's ridiculousness is not its tenuous online-thriller component; I happen to love watching filmmakers struggle to make internet chat cinematic or sexy. Usually this involves lousy-medium interfaces that are neither remotely realistic nor much more exciting than a shot of Yahoo Messenger; this film adds some pointless voice-over software into the mix.

No, there are far worse problems here than software compatibility. Perfect Stranger is one of those movies that wants to be a sexy, adult thriller, but garners an R rating not through any kind of real sexuality, but via corpse nudity and F-words. Especially F-words: the film is perfectly trashy but too chatty by half, never bothering to work up actual suspense. It's made clear early on that the screenplay is simply withholding some kind of information that, when revealed, will play the part in a twist we're supposed to be too forgetful to see coming. That's not suspense so much as it is obstruction of ending.

That strategy would work better if the film distracted us with interesting characters or performances. Willis is so accustomed to appearing in lousy movies that he appears able to keep his head down and power through without thinking about it; he squints and smirks and occasionally snarls. His reward, besides the paycheck, is a lot of long gazes at his gorgeous co-star, who appears much more invested in the proceedings. Berry gives the bad material her overemphatic all, droppin' her Gs to show off her street cred and angrily yelling some of her lines to, I don't know, show off an inner turmoil that Berry doesn't try to convey with her eyes or body language. At least her hair finally looks great; maybe the next Berry era will deliver on the promise of her Oscar win.

Perfect Stranger does have a lurid fascination in the way that every character reveals some degree of sleaze. For awhile you might have fun playing spot-the-kink, but you don't get a prize if you win. This kind of adult entertainment will have parents pining to take their kids to movies again.

And on the margarita, I specifically said no salt. No salt!



Perfect Stranger

Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 13th April 2007

Box Office USA: $23.7M

Box Office Worldwide: $73.1M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, Revolution Studios

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 11%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 126

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Rowena Price, as Harrison Hill, as Miles Haley, as Narron, as Cameron, Florencia Lozano as Lt. Tejada, as Grace, as Elizabeth Clayton, Gordon MacDonald as Senator Sachs, Daniella Van Graas as Josie, Paula Miranda as Mia Hill, Patti D'Arbanville as Esmeralda, as Gina, as Bethany, Michael Tolan as Judge

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.