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2 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Perfect Strangers (2003)
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by Cochise

"An unusual thriller – don’t miss it."
4 stars

Perfect Strangers is very different than your run-of–the-mill thriller, and will make you sit up and notice just how different it is.

WARNING - In order to review this film and discuss its meaning, I have to reveal the ending. So . . . if you don't want to know what happens in the end, please don't read this until after you have seen the film.

The story begins as the usual thriller about a woman who you know is going to be the kidnapping victim of the mysterious stranger that she hooks up with in a pub. However, just as you are about to say, “Ho-hum, here we go with this typical plot,” the film surprises you.

One pleasant surprise was that many of the typical cliches you expect in this type of film were not there. There was no body popping out, the bad guy did not chase the victim around the island until she finally figured out how to kill him, and after he was stabbed, he did not mysteriously get all this energy and keep chasing her.

The film had many things in it you just did not expect. For example, she stabbed him in the gut by accident, and then, very realistically, he almost immediately (once the adrenaline wore off) became weak, and very quickly died. (Without medical attention, a person with a wound like he had can not survive long.) I really appreciated it that this medical fact was presented correctly.

Another surprise was her remorse for stabbing him, and the beginning of her caring for him.

Sam Neill’s death, although not a surprise, came sooner than I expected. This made me pay attention to what was going on as I wondered what was going to happen now that the bad guy was gone.

It was also quite unusual when she did not immediately hit Bill with the shovel when he was burying the food she took out of the freezer. Usually in a thriller the heroine gets on with it and bashes the person she suspects is a bad guy. However, instead of immediately hitting Bill, she hesitated, (as many people who are not accustomed to violence would) and took a while to get up the courage to hit him.

I also found it unusual that Bill did not get angry with her for tying him up. Then it was even more of a surprise when she didn’t accidentally shoot him with the gun.

Besides the above surprises, there were some bizarre elements. Her touch of schizophrenia or delusions was something I did not expect. Also pushing the body in the wheelbarrow was weird.

I think the film was a study of mental illness. We saw how the trauma and guilt she felt over accidentally stabbing him made her, over a period of time, believe she was in love with him. ( I think she started to feel something for him when she was stitching him up.) And then her guilt over killing him made her see him in delusions and actually believe he was alive.

The unanswered question we are presented with in the end of the film is: Does her dancing with Sam Neill show she still has the delusion he is there? The reason for the question is this: When she was dancing with Sam, the guests did not seem to notice she was dancing with a non-existent person, as her movement away from Bill could be seen by the guests at the reception as a fancy dance movement. However, if she was having a full on delusion, you would think she would be dancing in such a way that it would be obvious to an observer that she was dancing with nobody.) So, if no guest at the reception was bothered by her dancing, we are left with the following questions: Was she actually delusional? OR Is she simply daydreaming?

One problem I had with the film was the bad guy. The meeting of the heroine and the “mysterious” stranger was disappointing as Sam Neill just does not seem right for the part. And, in the whole film, he either he did not play the role in the way it should be played (mysterious and sexy-dangerous at the same time), or he was simply miscast.

The sound was good. For example the use of the subwoofer when Bill arrives gave me a feeling of menace.

This film was not a high budget Hollywood movie, but it was an excellent film. It has a good feeling of suspense, moves along rapidly, and is not boring.

There are no special features on the region 4 disc, which I sorely missed. I would have like to have seen a director’s or writer’s commentary to see what the director or writer had in mind.

If you want a change from the usual brand of cliched thriller, see this film.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8235&reviewer=228
originally posted: 08/08/04 11:11:52
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/18/15 Peter B Just caught it today when I woke up early in a Manhattan hotel 4 stars
11/17/07 Vesper Sam Neil as a corpse for most of the movie, dull,very dull film. 2 stars
10/19/05 Cynthia Booker very interesting and unusual 'romance' 4 stars
6/08/05 Niamh Carmody I realy enjoyed this movie. Sam Neill was brilliant as usual and Rachel Blake is inspiring. 4 stars
5/16/05 jack brown absolute cack of the highest order. totally unbelievable and 90 minutes wasted 1 stars
2/27/05 Sam What's happening with NZ films? Tragic 2 stars
11/06/04 Tim B A movie that does not fit the usual plot line 4 stars
10/27/04 Wendy Drugging and abducting someone -- how romantic! 1 stars
7/25/04 Marie Meadowcroft Well written and directed script, finely acted, great location,a real "tortured" love story 4 stars
7/22/04 Vanesa so weird! waste of time 2 stars
7/19/04 gala strange, just strange! 3 stars
7/12/04 Elizabeth An extremely odd film, but it doesn't follow the expected path and is strangely watchable. 3 stars
6/23/04 ted elliott Total crap- shame on SN 1 stars
5/11/04 Lynn Bell Just awful! What was Neill thinking? But then again, he's made some real clunkers. T 1 stars
3/16/04 Kiki Pretty good, original, definitely unpredictable, Rachel Blake is great 3 stars
2/24/04 Jasper Lambe Errie, but somewhat tedious, unengaging and unsatisfying. 3 stars
2/07/04 Philip Gluckman one of the worst scripts ever committed to film 1 stars
12/01/03 Margaret Manning Excellent quirky film, a roller coaster ride - ignore critics go for the ride. 5 stars
11/08/03 ron smith just great. Got me thinking 5 stars
10/15/03 jan partridge very creepy, but the sort of movie that you still turn over in your mind the next day. 4 stars
10/11/03 Kathryn Brown Best film I've seen in a long time! 5 stars
10/07/03 Maaike the best! 5 stars
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  01-Oct-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 22-Jun-2004



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