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Perfect Stranger

Perfect Stranger

Genre: Drama/Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by:
James Foley
Starring:
Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi, Gary Dourdan
Released by: Sony Pictures

In Short: A boring by-the-numbers thriller that cannot be saved by Halle Berry’s gorgeous physical presence.

Not-So-Perfect Mystery
Style Without Substance
by Jenny Peters

Academy Award winner Halle Berry’s latest vehicle is called “Perfect Stranger,” and in some ways it is perfect. In the way she looks, for example. The 40-year-old beauty is as stunning as ever, especially when she’s draped in skimpy outfits that certainly show off her physical assets in all their cinematic splendor. In fact, the whole look of the film is terrific – sleek, sophisticated, and making New York City seem like one of the most gorgeous and glamorous places possible.

But as we all know, looks do not a great movie make, and that fact is painfully true with “Perfect Stranger.” Berry plays Rowena Price, a hard-charging tabloid newspaper reporter (which immediately makes the incredible Manhattan apartment she lives in completely unbelievable, as her character does not have a trust fund) whose childhood friend is murdered. In an effort to gather evidence against Harrison Hill, a high-powered, womanizing advertising mogul who is quite effectively played by Bruce Willis, she goes undercover into his office, gets romantically involved with him, and puts her life on the line to prove his guilt.

Halle Berry in Perfect Stranger
Giovanni Ribisi in Perfect Stranger

The plot twists and turns, as Rowena and her weird computer-genius assistant (Giovanni Ribisi, in a typically twisted performance) move toward the final outcome, but therein lies the problem with the film. The plot is definitely convoluted, with MacGuffins turning up right and left, but essentially it just plods along, so slowly developing that the tension that should be building in every frame is virtually nonexistent. Do we really care if Hill is the murderer? Not for a moment. How about if one of the other characters actually did the dastardly deed? Nope. Are we looking at our watch to see how much longer this thing will go on? Repeatedly during the second hour.

Bruce Willis
Perfect Stranger

The film redeems itself to a certain extent in the final frames, with a slightly shocking and interest-reviving finale, but overall it is a slow-paced, by-the-numbers thriller that serves more as a product-placement extravaganza and a vanity piece for Berry than it does as a film to be watched and remembered. And one thing is certain. None of the participants will be clutching a little gold statue for this flick come Oscar time next year.



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