The great Stan Brakhage once made a comment legitimizing the existence of empty-headed Hollywood product, likening such films to mind-cleansing palliatives that helped to balance out our tempestuous inner workings. On that level, the ludicrous Halle Berry vehicle Perfect Stranger is a total success: Upon its completion, I genuinely felt I had attained Nirvana, and credit must be given where it’s due; as vacuous, white noise entertainments go, this is one of the finest. What else to say about a film that makes its male lead (Bruce Willis) an advertising executive for the seemingly lone purpose of setting an entire sequence at a Victoria’s Secret afterparty? Minus any sort of satirical edge, such shit pretty much sells itself (and if any doubt remains, be sure to stick around for the Reebok straight with Heineken chaser). To all the Halle Berry fans out there: sorry, I just don’t get it. Girl can’t act her way out of a Ziploc bag; she seems more content (and all too self-aware) flaunting what Christopher Walken’s The Continental would refer to as her “sumptuous décolletage.” A sickeningly ripped Giovanni Ribisi (as the perverted, nasal-voiced confidante to Berry’s troubled reporter-of-many-faces) seals the deal: this is a film of diseased surfaces that director James Foley, long late of his Glengarry Glen Ross glory days, treats like a Eurotrash bodice ripper-cum-revenge thriller, equal parts Chabrol and Vadim, inexplicably run through a temporal-dissociative meat grinder. Call the end result nouvelle vagueness, a film best suited to late-night Skinemax where it will no doubt find its proper place beside Raúl Ruiz’s Shattered Image and the latest installment of Emmanuelle.
- James Foley
- Todd Komarnicki
- Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Portnow, Gary Dourdan, Florencia Lozano, Nicki Aycox, Kathleen Chalfant, Gordon MacDonald, Daniella Van Graas, Paula Miranda, Patti D'Arbanville
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