6.3/10
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57 user 32 critic

The Comfort of Strangers (1990)

R | | Drama, Thriller | April 1991 (USA)
A couple retreat to Venice to work on their relationship, but an encounter with a stranger leads them into a world of intrigue - where their darkest desires are in reach.

Director:

Paul Schrader

Writers:

Ian McEwan (novel), Harold Pinter (screenplay)

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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Christopher Walken ... Robert
Rupert Everett ... Colin
Natasha Richardson ... Mary
Helen Mirren ... Caroline
Manfredi Aliquo Manfredi Aliquo ... Concierge
David Ford David Ford ... Waiter
Daniel Franco ... Waiter
Rossana Canghiari Rossana Canghiari ... Hotel Maid
Fabrizio Sergenti Castellani Fabrizio Sergenti Castellani ... Bar Manager (as Fabrizio Castellani)
Mario Cotone Mario Cotone ... Detective
Giancarlo Previati Giancarlo Previati ... First Policeman
Antonio Serrano Antonio Serrano ... Second Policeman
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Storyline

An English couple holiday in Venice to sort out their relationship. There is some friction and distance between them, and we also sense they are being watched. One evening, they lose their way looking for a restaurant, and a stranger invites them to accompany him. He plies them with wine and grotesque stories from his childhood. They leave disoriented, physically ill, and morally repelled. But, next day, when the stranger sees them in the piazza, they accept an invitation to his sumptuous flat. After this visit, the pair find the depth to face questions about each other, only to be drawn back into the mysterious and menacing fantasies of the stranger and his mate. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A story of passionate obsession. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for obsessive and perverse sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Italy | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

April 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cortesie per gli ospiti See more »

Filming Locations:

Italy See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,537, 17 March 1991

Gross USA:

$1,244,381

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,244,381
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the novel the city they are in is unspecified. See more »

Quotes

Caroline: Are you in love?
Mary: Well, I... I do love him, I suppose. Not quite like when we first met. I trust him, really. He's my closest friend. But, what do you mean by in-love?
Caroline: I mean that you'd do absolutely anything for the other person, and you'd let them do absolutely anything to you. Anything...
Mary: Anything?
See more »


Soundtracks

AMOREVOLE
by Nicola Arigliano
See more »

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User Reviews

Chilling...
5 September 1999 | by richy29See all my reviews

This Paul Shrader movie is a 'must see' for anyone who's enjoyed 'Don't look now' by Nicholas Roeg. Once again we're back in Venice where decadence, decay and danger seem to lurk in every ill-lit corner. Just barely hiding from our eyes, but omni-present in the atmosphere.

We see Colin and Mary, a not-so-young and not-so-happy couple that have come back to Venice to decide whether or not to continue their relationship. The only plausible question to that answer seems to be a sound NO, until they meet Robert and Helen, an older couple living in a palazzo at the Grand Canal. Robert and Helen are weird, to say the least. Their marriage being a perverted mixture of violence and lust. Robert (Christopher Walken) could be a character from a James Purdy novel: a closeted mucho macho gay man who can only satisfy his need to be physically close to another man through violence. Masochistic Helen is not at all the victim she seems to be.

But who are the real perverts here? The clearly kinky older couple or their younger 'friends', that can't seem to stop having sex after their unsettling encounters? No need to tell that there can be no happy ending to this tale.

The Comfort of Strangers is a work of art. The chilling atmosphere is tangible, the characters are very convincing, the dialogue by Harold Pinter is multi-layered and the plot is slowly moving to its inevitable conclusion without the interference of a weak-hearted writer.

It makes you think about the million different methods people use to keep their lovelives alive. The movie also is a very brutal way of saying that nothing in life comes for free. By exaggerating the price Colin and Mary have to pay, Shrader seems to make us want to think about the more ordinary prices we pay in matters of fidelity, lust and love.


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