Immediately from the opening scene, I could tell it was going to be one of those movies. Halle Berry’s character, Rowena, is walking through a government building’s security check.
The guard glances skeptically at her laptop computer and Rowena says, “Security blanket,” to which the guard responds, “Lucky blanket.”
Come on, we’ve known Halle Berry is gorgeous for years – it’s time to get over it.
“Perfect Stranger” is one of those films that casts great actors but does them an injustice with poorly written, over-dramatic lines. Hopefully, this movie won’t taint Berry’s already fledgling screen credibility, as it’s not her performance that’s the problem. Movie-goers shouldn’t judge Berry, or co-stars Giovanni Ribisi (“Cold Mountain”) and Bruce Willis by what comes out of their mouths, but rather by how.
In “Perfect Stranger,” investigative journalists Rowena (Berry) and her co-worker Miles (Ribisi) combine forces to prove that multi-billionaire advertising executive Harrison Hill (Willis) murdered a friend of Rowena’s. Under a false identity, Rowena poses as a temp worker in Hill’s agency and sniffs around while wearing short, clingy dresses.
Berry and Ribisi share one dramatic scene after another.
Minus the context of their lines, their performances are as passionate as they are engaging. As Rowena, Berry plays a strong female character whose daringness sends forth a positive message to female fans.Meanwhile, despite falling by the wayside in the past couple of years, Ribisi reminds us why he’s a compelling
actor. On screen you can see the effort he’s invested into creating this multi-layered character.
He’s destined to become this generation’s Philip Seymour Hoffman or David Strathairn – responsible for countless great performances, but never recognized. Granted, Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar for “Capote” two years ago, so there’s hope for Ribisi.
Even Willis gives a strong performance as a formidable executive who doesn’t seem to look at anyone they’re rich or hot, because otherwise, they’re not worth his time. Willis should pick more roles like these (only with better scripts) because it reminds us that he’s a great actor, and not just a puddle of action hero sweat.
We’ve got kinetic performances from three great actors – so what’s the problem? The story’s unraveling doesn’t make sense and the dialogue that brings us there is embarrassing. At one point, one character says, “Stroke a man’s [penis] – you get him for the night. Stroke a man’s ego – you get him for life.”
And if you stroke an audience’s libido with a film trailer full of sexy shots of Halle Berry – you get their hard-earned money, too.
Jesse North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.