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What I loved about this movie is that the viewer never knows all the way until the end how it is going to turn out! If you are squeamish, avoid this movie. Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson holiday in Venice to save their relationship. By accident, they run into a rather quirky pair played by Christopher Walken and Helen Mirren. As the movie progresses, they find out some strange things about these two. Venice provides a beautiful and alluring backdrop to allow this fascinating drama to unfold. Lesson: Never be too polite to strangers!
I could not help but thinking of the old children's story of Hansel and Gretel. This time, Hansel and Gretel are grown up and get lost in Venice - the witch - being played chillingly by Christopher Walken as "Robert" - a rather strange man who lures the couple to dine with him and then later to stay at his house. You will notice that Robert always has one hand in his pocket. Very mysterious and wicked.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'The Comfort of Strangers' starts on a promising note. As the opening
credits role, we are introduced to the names of a talented cast. Set in
Venice, director Schrader maintains the mystery element. Venice looks
beautiful but at the same time very secretive and haunting. The
formidable cinematography and background score further stresses on
this. Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson act well but it is
Christopher Walken and Helen Mirren who steal the show. The sexual
tension is quite cleverly displayed as sex is a key element. However,
it is the ending that is a big letdown.
Spoiler: It is shown that Mirren and Walken's characters were sexually obsessed with Everett's Colin. So, why did they decide to kill him? I thought both of them wanted to have some kind of ménage-a-trois with him. That would have made more sense. Also, in the beginning, Mary and Colin, sleep in separate beds. Since they were lovers, why was that the case? Perhaps they were on the trip to find each other. It's suggested that Walken's character is of an Arabian background (the interior design of his house, his speaking Arabic to the people in the bar etc).
Nonetheless, it is the ending that ruins the film. Some people compared it to Lynch's work but 'The Comfort of Strangers' is nowhere near any of Lynch's great works.
This is probably Walken's best performance ever. His character takes center stage. A complex personality leavened by the yeast of sadism.
Sexual dominance is his preferred game .. how will the unsuspecting English couple fare?
The setting is Venice, the music is moorish. The mix is powerful.
One to see if you feel like a good, psychological character-based movie. Straight in your mind, a shot of disgust, beauty and affection combined. The setting is one to go to, the people are interesting and very real and yes; what can you say? Christopher W tells you he's one to watch. The story gives you a blow of inspiration and tells you what the extremes are of the society we live in ...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is beautifully made and well acted and scripted, but nonetheless I can't recommend it too highly because it is emblematic of the paranoia which is so prevalent in today's world. One gets to thinking that everything must end badly. Waiting around to see which of the protagonists will be killed, wondering IF there will be a killing, one is fascinated by the mystery, but it's a feeling similar to that of driving by an accident site and averting one's eyes...and at the same time, not averting one's eyes totally. Did it really happen? The brutality, suddenness, and finality of the murder that does take place, mixed with the ambiguity of time and person that pervades this film, makes it a memorable, and disturbing, experience.
This well made movie just twists and turns you around the dark alleys of the mind, much like the location of Venice in which it is set. Havent a clue what it about, but it prods a few raw nerves and gives you the corresponding jolts.
This was a beautifully filmed, perfectly acted waste of time. While the
tension and danger are real, the motives and plot are empty. When it
I said to myself, "Huh?"
If it wasn't busy taking superflous detours, it was inexplicably shocking. It's almost as if there was a second half that got cut out. I feel like I was owed an explanation, although one could extrapolate some kind of man vs. himself kind of conflict from all of this. Hey, maybe I'm just a dumb American who has gotten used to movies that hand you a plot on a platter. I guess that's what some people loved about this movie, and what left me feeling so unsatisfied ... I will be rolling the memories around for a while trying to put together something coherent with purpose, which the movie didn't supply.
This is one of those movies like "Mommie Dearest" that, after the first viewing, you're not sure that you could have possibly seen what you think you saw. It's so over the top that you need to shower afterward. And then, for some twisted reason, you watch it again and you start to like it. Everything about it is preposterous (though, Venice looks cool). Natasha Richardson and Rupert Everett play, perhaps, the dullest couple to ever grace the screen. It is impossible to care about, or even understand, the emotional quandary they're going through. Helen Mirren is completely insane, but nothing can prepare you for the vintage, bravura Walken performance. His monologue about his father (that he delivers more than once in a dubious Italian accent) is a zenith in the Hammy Hall of Fame. Seek out someone else that has seen it and recite that monologue to each other in a bad Italian dialect and you will seldom in your life laugh harder. Rent (or buy, as I have) quickly and brace yourself.
Still trying to figure out the point of this movie. The cast, setting and music were all the best that can be had, but the dialogue was as stilted as Mamet on a bad day, there was zero chemistry between Everett and Richardson, and Walken and Mirren were stuck in silly, unfathomable roles. I don't mind talky movies with slow dénouement but this didn't even have the merit of shedding light on human nature's dark spots. It amounted to a lurid headline with no information in the report. Why do Walken's and Mirren's characters act the way they do? I didn't even care enough about Everett's and Richardson's characters' relationship to wonder why it went from lukewarm to supercharged overnight and then back to lukewarm. Their relationship reminded me of Sheltering Sky - puzzling and sad, but not worthy of much interest. So I'm back to my initial question: what was the point?
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