Saturday, September 08, 2007

Perfect Stranger: Grade D


Perfect Stranger (2007)

Halle Berry, Giovanni Ribisi, Bruce Willis; Director James Foley

The movie opens with a long irrelevancy, always a bad sign. Berry is a big time New York reporter who gets the goods on a gay senator and is about to expose him when the story is spiked for reasons that suggest political interference. She quits her job in protest but it doesn’t matter because none of that has anything to do with the movie anyway. The real story starts when a childhood friend turns up murdered. A home computer shows she was involved in torrid chat with Willis’ character, a rich advertising man, and that they had a brief affair, after which he dumped her and she then threatened to blackmail him. Aha, that seals his guilt! Since Willis is in advertising, it is an excuse for shameless, in-your-face product placement, from Sony computers, to Victoria’s Secret, Reebok, and many others. Why, we hardly noticed! Ribisi is Berry’s friend at the newspaper (I think –he never is seen working), who helps her dig up more dirt on Willis. Why Berry cares is not clear, since she is not even a reporter any more. Some flashback memories try but fail to establish her motivation. She gets a job as a temp at Willis’ ad agency where she can tap her foot waiting for a file transfer on his computer before he comes into the office. Have I ever seen that situation before? Hmmm, let me think. The camera work is so stiff in this movie, I suspect Willis and Berry were never actually on the same set together. Sets and costumes were way too fussy: elaborate, brand new, spotlessly clean, shiny and bright, untouched by human hands – major distractions from the characters. Halle Berry is gorgeous of course, so predictably the camera tediously lingers on her butt and cleavage, but she really can act and there are flashing moments of talent. Willis remains asleep throughout. Ribisi is an interesting actor but his character was amorphous. The surprise ending is so contrived it is unintentionally humorous. Why do I give the movie a passing grade? Berry is easy to watch, and the music that plays over the closing credits is quite good. Is that enough? I’m feeling generous.

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