Perfect Stranger

2007-09-17 15:43
What it’s about:

An old acquaintance of an ace reporter (Halle Berry) is found murdered just days after revealing that she was having an affair with a high-powered businessman (Bruce Willis). What better time to employ Cold War spy skills in order to nail the bastard?


You get the feeling that Perfect Stranger was supposed to feature Halle’s infamous…erm…berries more prominently, but presumably they were beyond the budget. So the first half of Perfect Stranger takes great pains to focus lewdly on her overacting arse instead.

In fact, director James Foley seems to take great pleasure in adopting a seedy, leery fixation on sex as a theme for this film, which treats its main device – Internet Dating and Sex Chats – like Ric Romero in sweeps week. (Romero is a network television journalist with a reputation among web users for stating the old, obvious, and wildly generalistic.)

Similarly, the protagonists’ incessant mucking about with chat rooms and firewalls and basic information technology distracts from what should have been better character development… or, at least, more sex.

What sex there is, is never as explicit as it wants to be (unless you count full frontal cadaver nudity, you freaks). There are no Basic Instinct sexophonics here. No, no, no. This is about the supposed NEW sex… in the dark, anonymous abyss of … wait for it… the Interweb computer pages! What will these youngsters think of next?

On the web, the reporter poses as an implausibly makeshift vixen out to shag the boss. Suggestive, sexy, willing but not too eager; the archetype of the dream virtual date. In the “real” world, poor Berry is made to cuss and curse like a sailor whenever she’s at odds with her partners. Other times she’s a pop philosopher on the benefits and pitfalls of virtual anonymity. Jean Baudrillard is turning in his grave.

Bruce Willis doesn’t fare much better. He never really convinces as a potential murdering millionaire suspect, and is further hamstrung by a script that requires him to stand there and look awkward. For a supposed serial womaniser-slash-alleged-ladykiller (literally), he’s about as threatening as Tinky Winky on Botox.

Speaking of Teletubbies, Giovanni Ribisi is the only one of a strangely respectable cast that leaves any kind of lasting impression. It’s mainly because he’s a completely different character from scene to scene: pathetic, menacing, obsessive, genius, sad.

But at least this is consistent with the film’s inherent sense of confusion. In its final act it shifts gracelessly from a psycho melodrama, into a courtroom tragedy, into a murder thriller, into a ceremonial beating with a virtual morality stick.

At least you don’t have to see Bruce’s willis, though even Color of Night’s plot seems more credible that this drek. The film, its story and any chance of enjoyment are all summed up in one word: unlikely.

- Anton Marshall
With a thriller this shamefully lecherous you might expect some good old fashioned sex scenes to break up the snore-worthy plot. But alas, Halle aint getting her berries out this time.

Lwazi 2007/05/23 2:26 PM
LOL Tinky Winky on Botox - now that got me rolling on the floor with laugher! But nothing is as bad as The Hills have Eyes 2. I'm actually speechless.
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