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Perfect Stranger
Review written on: April 14th, 2007

Perfect Stranger Review

This movie starts off fast. Immediately we are introduced to Rowena, (Halle Berry) a newspaper reporter who is determined to publish the truth about senators and the government to the public. Her sidekick Miles (Giovanni Ribisi) clears the way for her to enter buildings and get to her stories, all while remaining at his desk. Rowena’s story is blocked by her own editors due to the paper’s public backing of her targeted Senator for re-election. In a heated tirade about free speech and the state of the American government, Rowena storms off, quitting her job because she isn’t allowed to do it anyway. It’s a pretty speech, but does not really go with much else in the movie.

The next few scenes are confusing and are meant to be. Rowena runs into an old friend Grace (Nicki Aycox) on the subway, but seems put-off by her friend’s presence. We get from Rowena that Grace appears in her life at times when she wants something, and now Grace wants Rowena to chase down a story for her. She had met rich advertising executive Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis) on line and had an affair, but now he wants nothing to do with her. Not much of a story. But Grace later turns up dead in the Hudson River, and Rowena begins to think she was murdered by Harrison Hill. Because no one else in New York City is capable of murder.

The premise is weak, but the action is pretty decent. Rowena and Miles figure out a way to investigate Hill by placing her as a temp in his office under the name Katherine. Willis plays Hill’s character suave and a bit crazy as Willis only does. Hill is a powerful man with a rich wife to back him but has a wandering eye. Rowena takes advantage of this and tries to attract his attention on line and in the office. The main objective is to put spyware on Hill’s computer to link him to the threatening emails that Grace had received before his death. But it doesn’t work out so well, as Hill is paranoid about traitors in the company and fires Katherine for being a spy.

Rowena/Katherine turns to Miles for support, only to find out that he harbors a secret, perverse crush on her, and that he was seeing Grace on the side. The plot thickens. Rowena’s relationship with Miles is ruined, even though he was able to get into Hill’s computer by himself by posing as a computer tech, and Rowena is left with her suspicions and her freaky moments in the bathroom with the ghost of her father saying “I like bath time.” Oh, did I not mention her nightly terrors about her father? They are random and creepy, but we get the picture. Sometime in her past, Rowena was abused. It becomes a part of her character easily as the directors make sure the audience is reminded throughout the movie. It comes together in the end though. In fact, this movie is extremely satisfying because of the ending. Rowena goes to the police with her suspicions about Hill and the law takes it from there. Rowena gets her story, but there?s a twist. They got the wrong man.

This movie is written creatively, but there are some places where it feels thin. There are jumps in the story where it doesn’t seem right for the character to be acting the way they are, and other scenes that seemed to be included to fill time. This movie isn’t one where the audience could have figured out the ending, because we see it from Rowena?s eyes, and she was in control of what was revealed. But, the acting is quality here. Berry, Ribisi, and Willis are each committed to their characters, and play them to the end. I was pleasantly surprised that none of them mailed in the part. If only the writing had been tightened, this would have been a grade A movie. As it stands, see it in the theater if your number one choice is sold out, but don?t stress if you wait for the DVD. I’m sure the extras on it will add to the experience.

 

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