“The Perfect Stranger” is interesting at first, but soon overstays its welcome. The film turns out a solid cast, but just can’t redeem a shallow and overly twist-filled script based on a story by John Bokenkamp.
Recently fired from her job as an investigative journalist at a New York newspaper, Rowena Price (Halle Berry) is quick to immerse herself in catching the killer of a close childhood friend.
Rowena assumes an alias and takes a new job at Harrison Hill’s (Bruce Willis) advertising agency to gain more insight on Hill. Rowena is following a whim that he may be the murderer and with the help of dedicated but a little strange and slightly creepy friend, Miles (brilliantly played by Giovanni Ribisi), Rowena cunningly uses her good looks and charm to reel in the attention of Hill.
As their relationship develops, however, the movie slowly begins to lose appeal. Internet conversations are overused and detract from the two main stars’ multi-layered acting. Berry relies mainly on her sexuality and attractiveness to get her through the movie, and not enough on the impressive acting skills that gained her an Academy Award for 2001’s fantastic drama, “Monster.”
Willis is disappointingly in few scenes, and the ones he is in, tend to be one-dimensional and do not dig out his inner acting strength.
The best performance is undoubtedly by Ribisi as he generates a profuse range of emotions- - including his unreciprocated lust for Berry’s Rowena, his witty one-liners and even a deeper glimpse of manic fixation. His character adds an element of depth to the movie missing from Willis and Berry’s performances.
The movie fails to produce the suspense level that appears to exist in its trailer. By falling back on the instant messaging between Rowena and Hill, the audience is forced to listen to the two characters communicate with as much enthusiasm as a computer can possibly provide.
Although the movie is not as exciting as the previews make it out to be, a twist toward the end of the film affords it some level of redemption. A quick jump to a predictable trial sentencing makes it seem as though the writers got as bored as the viewer and just wanted to end the movie as soon as possible.
However, the trial leads to an unexpected realization that adds to the film’s depth, allowing the viewer to once again immerse themselves in the movie. But instead of finishing at this point, which would have provided a satisfactory ending, the film instead continues developing on the twist of events, once again making it over the top.
With mediocre performances by the two stars and an ostentatious attempt to fully deliver the story promised by the trailer, this movie fails to reach its full potential. Ribisi’s performance and an unforeseen plot development compensate for the film’s shortcomings but do not completely redeem its credibility and entertainment value.