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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 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?
with a brief interlude of unaccountable horror. And that's all. A
pastiche of false subtleties. Forget about it. Fleshing out this review
is much like what fleshing out the screenplay must have been -- it
implies an underlying motivating principle in its characters, but there
is no such principle in the ideas. Bo one can tell, from the beginning
or the end, that there was any coherent idea in this film.
I'm surprised, as well, that the pretense of the film went unnoticed. Since I must go on with my comment, and as I had to endure the slowly passing puzzlement of the film, I say simply that it didn't justify itself, which is, after all, what a good film aims for. This one is not a contender.
The plot of this film without disclosing any details can be summed
up with your Mother's admonition to you as a pre-teen: "Never Talk
If you ever wondered, "Why Not?", see this movie for a possible answer.
It's obvious that talent and effort went into the making of "The Comfort Of Strangers." It lovely photographing of Venice, the ominous atmosphere is well done, the acting is good, and it just seems so well, pretty. The million-dollar question is, why? Is it supposed to be entertainment? It doesn't feel that way. And a good thing, too, because despite the tension, despite the suspense the movie is too slow, too boring. I LIKE slow, psychological movies. But I couldn't help looking hopefully at my watch, over and over again. If you're after entertainment, watch something entertaining, watch something gratifying. No, `The Comfort of Strangers' feels like an art house movie. And despite my respect for artistic privilege, for self-expression why make this movie? I disagree with the other reviews this movie has nothing behind it, nothing. Is it aiming at realism? I hope not. Sure, much of the plot is conceivable. And a movie doesn't have to overtly portray its characters' motivations in order for the audience to believe that their behavior is legitimate but that believability is a must. Much of this movie just appears ridiculous and gratuitous. Unconvincing. Things happen just because. A mix of realism and absurdity, perhaps? Let's assume so. But to what ends, what is being expressed, why? A comment on the English perhaps, or on Italians? On men, maybe? On life? On love? Don't expect anything sophisticated. Someone described this movie as confusing. It only becomes confusing if you assume, a priori, that because so much effort was put into it, it DOES has some sort of meaning, and try to understand what it is. But all it is is a mish-mash of themes whose sum, regretfully, is infinitesimal. What this movie does do, and do well, is shock you. But in a bad way. You know something terrible is going to happen, but you don't expect it to be so ridiculously unwarrantable. You assume that it will add some sort of coherence, significance, something at all, to everything that has preceded it. But exactly the opposite happens. Credibility is destroyed, and to make things worse, the movie goes on, dragging itself on and on, as if a renewed declaration of its insensibility is going to make things better, make you accept it as some sort of whole. It doesn't. You don't need to hear the policeman ask why you are already asking a different question. Why has this movie been made?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had never heard of this film before I stumbled across it one evening.
I am a big fan of Christopher Walken and noticed that Helen Mirren was
in it too. Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson also star - so I
assumed (wrongly) this would be worth watching.
Set in Venice, we see a strained relationship between Everett and Richardson as a holidaying couple. They meet Walken one evening as they were looking for a bar, they have some drinks, Walken invites them to stay at his house and there they meet Mirren. I could elaborate more and even give the ending away (an ending that could not come soon enough) but even that would be a waste of time.
I cannot even explain the plot because it makes no sense. A bit like the dialogue too. Everett spends the whole time either walking (semi-bounding if you ask me - where did he learn to walk like that?) around with one hand in his pocket looking totally bored with everything or talking cack-handed, pompous rubbish. Richardson looks like she'd rather suck on a bag of lemons than be in this film and as for Mirren and Walken - why they ever signed up at all is beyond me. The dialogue is so bad - it has to be heard to be believed. One such example is Everett asks why Walken was secretly taking pictures of him before they met. Walken answers: "See that Barber Shop. My grandfather went to that Barber shop. My father went to that barber shop. I go to that barber shop." Then he turns to look at an island in the distance and says "See over there? That's Cemetery Island." Does a short snort and walks off screen - scene over. What????
This is a waste of time, energy, acting talent, anything else you want to throw in. Not worth watching even if you were given a free giant Pizza and a pint of Peroni to add to the Italian ambiance.
I would have given this film 0/10 if there was an option. Unfortunately, there wasn't. 1/10. Avoid like the plague.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've seen this many times and always thought it a great film.
The story is adapted from McEwan, but I think he stole it from Don't Look Now, which is based on Du Maurier's short story.
Four actors playing their parts brilliantly. Richardson is great as the middle class optimist, Walken is nicely sociopath, and Everett plays the weak narcissist. But the whole thing comes together with Helen Mirren's speech about women's play acting.
Score is amazing. Location amazing. And the ending is so cruel - this is a horror film, because it takes you through the looking glass to a world where malevolence rules and there's nothing you can do about it.
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