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After viewing Perfect Stranger, I went on the film's page at the IMDb,
and found out that there were three different endings filmed, each one
with a different character being guilty. This does not surprise me at
all. This is a movie that jerks us around simply for the sole fact that
it wants to jerk us around. It doesn't want us to figure it out, and it
doesn't play fair. When I realized that there was no point in following
the clues and the movie simply plays to the demands of the filmmaker
and which ending worked best with test audiences, it made me hate this
shallow and silly excuse for a thriller even more.
The film centers on an investigative journalist named Rowena (Halle Berry) who specializes in going undercover and exposing corporate and political frauds with the help of her creepy best friend and co-worker Miles (Giovanni Ribisi) who seems to have a certain unhealthy obsession with her that is painfully obvious to the audience, yet Rowena seems blissfully ignorant to. Rowena's having a tough time after she quits her job due to one of her stories falling through and a childhood friend of hers named Grace (Nicki Aycox) turns up dead. The two women just happened to have a chance meeting in a subway shortly before Grace's murder, and she told Rowena about how she had been having an on-line affair with a powerful New York ad executive named Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis). Grace had mentioned that their relationship had recently soured, and that Harrison was no longer talking to her. When evidence pops up that Grace may have been pregnant, Harrison becomes all the more suspicious to Rowena, especially since the man is married and has a long history of past affairs. Deciding to investigate on her own, Rowena turns up at Harrison's corporate office as a Temp and tries to get close to him, with Miles trying to dig up more dirt on the guy. Naturally, things are not what they seem, and the movie has more red herrings than a fresh fish market to keep us guessing in sheer futility.
There's nothing exactly wrong with the concept behind Perfect Stranger, and director James Foley certainly gives the movie an attractive look. The problem lies with the screenplay by Todd Komarnicki. He seems to be trying to make an erotic murder thriller along the lines of Basic Instinct, but the movie is not very erotic nor is it very thrilling. The pace is leisurely to the point of being nearly stagnant, and the few sex scenes contained within the film are completely and instantly forgettable. I guess we're supposed to be enthralled by the twisting plot that casts everyone who plays a major role into a shadowy light. The movie stresses time and time again that everyone has dirty secrets, and yes, many secrets are exposed. The problem is almost all of these secrets exist simply to throw us off course. Not one leads to the correct answer. The answer exists simply in whatever of the three endings worked out the best. A thriller like this has to be planned out and lead to one true answer, not whatever answer the filmmakers feel like.
Long before we find out that the movie doesn't even want to play fair, Perfect Stranger never truly captures our attention to start with. The characters are murky at best and, as previously mentioned, exist simply to lead us in multiple directions. They are victims of a plot that knows it's clever. They have no personality and no real motivation other than to act as red herrings. A good example is the character of Harrison Hill, who is slimy simply because he is supposed to be slimy for the sake of the story. He cheats on his wife, he threatens his business enemies, and when he finds out that one of his employees has been leaking info to an outside source, he physically abuses him right in front of all the other employees. None of these actions truly matter. They have no motivation and they do not drive his character to any sort of goal. We can't become attached to these people, because they're not even human to start with.
Since winning the Oscar for Monster's Ball, Halle Berry seems to be on a strange single-minded quest to kill her career. Chalk up another loss for Berry. She's passable at best, but just about any other actress could have filled her shoes, and she brings nothing to the character. Same goes for Bruce Willis, who has absolutely no charisma, and we cannot understand why he is such a ladies man except for the fact that the movie tells us he is. The only performance that does stand out is Giovanni Ribisi as Miles, and it's for all the wrong reasons. He is immediately suspicious to us, because Ribisi plays up the weirdness of his character almost from the instant he walks onto the screen. This makes the fact that Berry's character does not even seem the least bit unnerved by him make her come across as a total idiot.
I will not reveal the ending of Perfect Stranger, but I will say this. When the ending comes, did you personally see anything during the course of the movie that could have led us to the conclusion it wants to lead us to? We don't get the full story beforehand. All the clues, all the evidence, all the paths it had led us down had nothing to do with anything. The movie is a great big exploding cigar that laughs at us when everything blows up in our face. There are no right and wrong answers. Just one very uninteresting movie that doesn't even have the nerve to play fair.
I watched Perfect Stranger at a preview at my local theater this past weekend, and next to the scantily clad Halle Berry, there was no reason to go watch this movie. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with movies with twists, but as long as they're done with thought, taste, and creativity. The problem in this movie is writers have all the freedom in the world to guide a viewer's mind and place where the twists lie. It is too easy for writers to trick the audience, and to some audience members, the simple trick in itself is good enough to make the movie "great." Well, this doesn't cut it for me. I want a movie that connects, makes me think, has me connect with a character, or even teaches me something. Perfect Stranger lacked meaning, taste, and creativity and is just another one of those "movies with a twist." FYI: The movie was a long advertisement with way too much product placement. Even if the movie does bomb, the movie industry would have made up for the loss with the amount of advertising they put in the movie.
I've read all the negative comments and I'm starting to think someone
who hates Halle Berry has created multiple accounts. I hadn't intended
on seeing it, I just felt like going to the movies this afternoon. The
movie I wanted to see didn't start until later so I said 'what the
heck, I'll give it a try'. This movie was a pleasant surprise for me.
I called it noir-ish because that's the feeling I got from it. And I have to say that sitting in the theater I thought, 'Gee, it's nice to see a movie with two real live movies stars in it.' You get all kinds of weird combinations these days with stars and starlets and rap artists that it's no wonder that most movies are awful.
In this case you have a story about a woman played by Halle Berry who is an investigative reporter for a major newspaper. She has a great story that her paper decides to not use. In anger, she quits, and at the same time a maybe even more important story, involving an advertising giant played by Bruce Willis, falls in her lap. So the movie is about her trying to get to the bottom of this story along with the help of her friend/colleague, played by Giovanni Ribisi. Now I'm purposely not including any spoilers because I personally like to know as little as possible going into a film.
I think a good number of people who like movies like The Usual Suspects or Lucky Number Slevin will like something like this. Now where I think we can really tell is if you also saw and didn't hate the Black Dahlia. A lot of people didn't like it. I loved it. But being very specific there were people who didn't like it because they felt the ending was too quick and that there was no way you could have figured it out with the information at hand until the movie explained it for you at the end. I disagree but those people may have a problem with this. Anyone who wants to figure mysteries out before the end and doesn't want to go along for the ride may have the age old complaint of "how are we supposed to figure it out if they only told you (insert important plot point) at the end?" I'm not one of those people. I like to go along for the ride. That being said, I do think there is enough info that if you really want to guess at the ending you could do it.
The acting was great. I'm not that big on Halle Berry but she did the best job I've seen her do in a while. Bruce is becoming someone I definitely trust with my money. And, imo, it's Giovanni Ribisi who stole the show here. He's getting better all the time.
This movie is for adults, not that it's too much for a teenager to handle. I just don't really think it's something your average teen would be interested in. And it's an R for a couple of reasons. So I'm going to recommend it for older mystery and/or noir fans who don't mind not being able to figure out the ending.
What in the world has happened to Halle Berry? Can't she act any more? Judging from this movie I'd say: Yes - she can't... And Bruce Willis is ... well, he's Bruce Willis. And why does she have to participate in a mediocre thriller like this one? Because it is very mediocre. The beginning is quite promising, and I was ready for a nice, clean thriller. But what followed was like a bad version of some Michael Crichton novel. Oh, and the filmmakers filmed three different endings to the film, each with a different character as the killer? Then they must have chosen the worst ending. The film is not creative, not inventive, implausible, sometimes ridiculous. No, it's not a disaster. But a major disappointment.
"Perfect Stranger" is quite thrilling but the finale simply absurd, moronic. It doesn't lack thrills and pshycology, being it a phsycological thriller. Played intensely, with moments of entertainment not delicious but decent though, everything's spoiled by the foolish and outrageous ending - the mystery resolution is too convoluted. It looks like a pre-packedged thriller, "homogenized" I'd say, with much part of it taking place in chats. Bruce Willis and Halle Berry have acted much better in past, but are watchable regardless, as well as Giovanni Ribisi; suspense thriller is made bearable but eventually degenerates..
The only reason i can see for this movie to be released is because celebrities are in it. But, Halle Berry over-acts a choppy and shallowly developed character. I spent the whole movie waiting for the plot to really get going, but instead what i got was a whole bunch of disconnected plot points and irrelevant characters. It is supposed to be suspenseful, but mostly i just wanted it to be over. When the end came, yes, it was a surprise, but by that time I did not care about the story at all. And it was only "surprising" because the whole story is random events all loosely, very loosely connected to the end. It was almost...amateur. The story does not give enough background on most characters to evoke sympathy, emotion, or interest...ESPECIALLY Willis' character. It's a movie that is good in theory, but wasn't focused enough to be held in the same esteem as other psychological thrillers. The most developed and well acted character is really Ribisi's. His performance is noteworthy and enough to warrant the 3 out of 10.
Perfect Stranger I had read really bad reviews of the movie on the
internet and I was not sure whether I should go to see this movie or
not. I had to choose between a 1918 Austrian silent movie and this. I
chose this, just because it was a new movie.
The story is about a journalist played by Halle Berry, who does sting operations on rich powerful businessmen. With one mission unsuccessful due to politics and power-play in not covering the sting by the news industry and she quitting her job; she pursues Harrison Hill played by Bruce Willis to expose the murder of her friend. She takes the help of her colleague Miles played by Giovanni Ribisi. I would not disclose the expose and let the last frame suspense let out.
The movie is quite engaging throughout, and I found the reviews a bit harsh and lopsided. It is not such a bad movie as made out to be by film critics. The mystery quotient shifts from one character to another, I had guessed one when the murder took place, but due to the course of engrossing events and incidences I lost that thought; only to re-emerge as the mystery I had guessed in the first place.
The ending was a bit lame, and there are lots of loose ends hanging. Halle Berry looks good and tries to act sincerely. At times she has captured some emotions perfectly. Bruce Willis does not have much to do and as usual he mumbles his way through the movie and at times displays his whimsical temper. The surprise pack was Giovanni Ribisi as the colleague and close friend of Halle Berry who has a huge crush on her and manipulates Halle's effort to solve the mystery.
James Foley the director, lost the plot in the end, but leaves behind an engrossing story overall.
(Stars 5.25 out of 10)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think the relentless attacks on this movie particularly by critics
are just totally unfair. Reviews are running about 10-1 against it in
some major publications. It is frequently referred to as "conventional"
or clichéd. In the first place, they criticize it for pandering to
public interest because it is partially about computer sex, and also
about a congressman who has illicit affairs with boys, and an
investigative reporter who tries to find the lowdown on a powerful ad
executive who is cheating on his wife. The Congressman/boy scandal
actually happened last year in Washington,D.C. In many movies nowadays
computers and cell phones play a role ("The Departed" for example) and
at least two recent highly-praised movies ("Me And You and Everyone We
Know" and "Hard Candy") are specifically about computer sex. Sex always
sells (there are numerous sexual references as well in "Blades Of
Glory", but this is just Will Ferrell showing his Saturday Night Live!
background, it is funny, and to a large extent "Blades" rises above
this) and to criticize "Perfect Stranger" for being sleazy for this
reason is hardly fair. Then they criticize the acting performances. I
think Halle Berry should be allowed to do her thing. With this movie,
she should become an even bigger box office draw.
The movie's fast pace really impressed me. It was somewhat like "The Departed" in this respect, and "The Departed" won an Oscar for editing. You have to stay on your toes to understand what is happening. I thought the detail about Harrison Hill's wife's connection with belladonna was interesting, and it is historically accurate that serial killers have used atropine for years to kill people. I thought Giovanni Ribisi's character as a sleazy computer geek who has his secret lust for Rowena was well-done. There being all types of abnormal psychology, from multiple personality to neurotic, this one seems somewhat middling, perhaps above average, on a scale of 1-10. and the movie has many interesting minor characters, like Rowena's mother, who in the end plays a significant role. I enjoyed the arrest, trial and conviction of Hill--but things are not as they appear to be. Certainly not a movie for rubes or farmers or children, I think this is a sophisticated New York thriller worth the $6 price of admission, though not perfect. I also enjoyed both "Premonition" and "The Reaping" which movies were likewise trashed by critics for the same reasons.
Before seeing "Perfect Stranger", I was hoping for another hidden gem
like "Twisted" (2004), which was also a murder mystery with a female
lead and other big names in the cast and also got bad reviews; sadly,
this film isn't it.
The film starts off poorly - it's a whodunit, but the victim is a character who appears in just one scene before getting bumped off, so we don't have enough time to like or even hate (as it usually happens in, say, the Agatha Christie mysteries) her; so it's harder to find a reason to care who killed her. The film improves somewhat in the middle, with a couple of tense scenes (like the one in the car with Willis suspecting Berry of being a spy, or Berry's entrance into Ribisi's "secret room"), and a few interesting (if brief) views of the net-chatting world. But then the ending comes, and it's a cheat - the perfect planning required for it is simply too far-fetched (IMDB trivia says they filmed three alternative endings with three alternative killers: the one chosen in the final cut was probably the worst).
Halle Berry is GORGEOUS in this movie - I personally think this woman is getting more beautiful every year - but her acting is a bit forced, especially at her "big" moments. Bruce Willis has a couple of good scenes, but the rest of the time he pretty much sleepwalks through his role. Another problem is that both their characters are not very interesting, and yet another one is that there is no erotic heat between them, because Bruce is too old for Halle - although their age difference is only 11 years, he would even be more acceptable as her father than as her lover! In a supporting role, Giovani Ribisi is marginally more interesting than the two leads.
All in all, this movie is between a 4 and a 5 out of 10, mostly rental material.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Half way through the first half of this dreary film I knew I had goofed
and seriously wondered whether I could slip out and go and see the
The film literally plods along and really lacks any conviction whatsoever. The ending was a surprise but by that time I was too keen to leave the theatre.
The films revolves mainly about the three main characters who are, along with every other character in the film, a bunch of devious, debauched, lieing, shallow personalities - there are no heroes or heroines in this story.
The online chatting is so outdated and obviously phoney, the script so weak, the antics of the computer boff Miles nonsensical, and when Hill finds out that he has been duped by Ro his reaction is unbelievably infantile and naive for such a supposedly dynamic and creative high flying ad exec.
A big yawn here folks.... give this one a miss... I was totally disappointed.
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