REVIEW: Perfect Strangers

January 6, 2017

Review, Theatrical, This Week 2 Comments

“…well acted, touching, both funny and serious, and above all deftly plotted and scripted.”

REVIEW: Perfect Strangers

Mark Demetrius
Year: 2016
Rating: M
Director: Paolo Genovese

Giuseppe Battiston, Anna Foglietta, Marco Giallini

Distributor: Palace
Released: January 26
Running Time: 96 minutes
Worth: $17.50

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…well acted, touching, both funny and serious, and above all deftly plotted and scripted.

One classically tried and true formula for a suspenseful film is the dinner party gone wrong. The basic idea is always that the characters start off cheerful and relaxed, but that things go seriously awry after something (usually booze) kicks in, and skeletons begin to emerge from closets. Perfect Strangers presents us with a latter-day and somewhat ingenious variation on the theme: seven friends gather for dinner, but the agent of their distress is in this case the mobile phone. For the course of the evening, they agree to read aloud or “broadcast” every text message, phone call, and email that they receive. It’s a risky commitment, to put it mildly – with these phones being “the black boxes of our lives”, as Rocco (Marco Giallini) remarks – and the plot rapidly thickens.

The protagonists are all affable enough. Most have grown up together, and know each other extremely well…supposedly. One of them, a guy called Beppe (Giuseppe Battiston), has promised to bring along his new girlfriend, and the others are consumed with curiosity about her. The conceptual premise is rendered much more complicated by the fact that two guests contrive to swap phones (and thus delude their friends) in order to avoid an embarrassing revelation. In lesser hands, this would have made for tedious comedy-of-errors farce; here it actually adds to the power of the drama.

Perfect Strangers is well acted, touching, both funny and serious, and above all deftly plotted and scripted. There are sharp observations here about the vagaries of human relationships, and the odd, wryly memorable quip. (One of the less subtle being, “I don’t want us to end up like Barbie and Ken: you full of plastic, and me with no balls.”) It’s definitely recommended.


  1. Babs

    Could someone explain the conclusion for me! I came away confused – seemed that lives went on as usual, with no regard to the revelations at the dinner table.

  2. Jana

    I think that scene at the end was what really happened. Life can go on with everyone having secrets. What went on at the dinner party was what could happen, a warning. On the other hand, the dinner party could have been the real thing emphasising the superficiality of lives lived with secrets. Or perhaps it makes us question what makes us happy, and should all be revealed?

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