Perfect StrangerApril 13, 2007
A journalist goes undercover to ferret out businessman Harrison Hill as her best friend's killer. Posing as one of his temps, she enters into a game of online cat-and-mouse.
Release Year: 2007
Rating: 5.5/10 (24,930 voted)
Critic's Score: 31/100
Stars: Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi
Rowena Price is a muckraking reporter for a New York paper. When her story about a closeted gay Senator who preaches family values is spiked, she quits and soon finds herself investigating the grisly murder of a childhood friend. Her friend had been dumped by ad exec Harrison Hill, so he's Rowena's prime suspect. Rowena gets a job at the ad agency as a temp, and she's soon the object of Hill's attentions. She's helped in her subterfuge by Miles Haley, a friend at the paper who has a secret thing for her. Everyone, it seems, has secrets, including Hill, who must keep his affairs from his wife – her money fuels his lifestyle. Murder will out?
Writers: Todd Komarnicki, Jon Bokenkamp
Daniella Van Graas
How Far Would You Go To Keep A Secret?
Release Date: 13 April 2007
Filming Locations: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: €723,000
(13 April 2007)
(20 May 2007)
Did You Know?
The filmmakers filmed three different endings to the film, each with a different character as the killer.
Just as the phone numbers said and shown in movies are almost always fake and non-existent(so that real people do not receive calls from moviegoers making the movie itself a liability)- so are the 'IP addresses' shown – Miles is hacking into Harrison's "blade server", and a list of IP addresses appears on the screen. The addresses are incorrect. An IPv4 address consists of 4 numbers separated by dots. Each of those numbers can be 0-255. But most of the IP addresses shown on the monitor have at least one number over 255.
Stroke a man's dick, you get him for one night. Stroke a man's ego, you get him for life.
What's the point of guessing if the movie doesn't play fair?
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
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
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.