Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Foley|
|Produced by||Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas|
Daniel A. Thomas
|Screenplay by||Todd Komarnicki|
|Story by||Jon Bokenkamp|
|Music by||Antonio Pinto|
|Cinematography||Anastas N. Michos|
|Edited by||Christopher Tellefsen|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$73.1 million|
Perfect Stranger is a 2007 American neo-noir psychological thriller film, directed by James Foley, and starring Halle Berry and Bruce Willis in their first film together since The Last Boy Scout (1991). It was produced by Revolution Studios for Columbia Pictures.
Under the pen name David Shane, reporter Rowena Price (Halle Berry) and researcher Miles Haley (Giovanni Ribisi) are investigating senator Stephen Sachs, who has been having secret sexual encounters with his male interns, despite his publicly antigay agenda. However, the story is shut down when the source clams up and Rowena's editor, a supporter of the senator, puts a stop to the story. The editor also insists she take a vacation and will not take no for an answer.
While walking home, Rowena meets her childhood friend, Grace Clayton (Nicki Aycox), who seeks her help in taking down Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis), a wealthy advertising executive. Grace gives Rowena her e-mails as proof of their extramarital affair, which Hill recently ended.
A few days later, Grace is found dead, drowned and poisoned with belladonna, leading Rowena to suspect Harrison. Grace was revealed to be in her first trimester of pregnancy. With Miles' help, Rowena goes undercover, under the alias of Katherine Pogue, as a temporary worker at Harrison's advertising company, H2A at 7 World Trade Center. While setting up gift bags for a Victoria's Secret collection launch, she meets fellow advertiser Gina (Clea Lewis). Gina gives her information about the questionable lifestyles of the senior management of H2A. Harrison Hill is revealed to be rich because of his wife, Mia Reinhart-Hill (Paula Miranda). If she divorced him, he would be penniless, revealing the reason why he keeps his affairs with female workers secret. Rowena flirts with Hill both online and in real life, but is warned to stay away by Hill's lesbian PA, Josie (Daniella van Graas). And Rowena is not realizing the online Hill is actually Miles, secretly in love with her. One day Hill catches Rowena snooping, thinks she is a corporate spy, and fires her.
At Miles's apartment, Rowena discovers a shrine to her and explicit pictures of Miles and Grace. Miles arrives home and Rowena confronts him. He defends himself by providing evidence that Hill had access to belladonna for poisoning. Rowena goes to the police, and Harrison is arrested for the murder of Grace.
After Hill's conviction, Miles visits Rowena. He tells her that he knows she is the real killer and has been using this investigation to frame Hill. Rowena flashes back to a memory of her father attempting to molest her, and her mother subsequently bludgeoning him to death with a fireplace poker. A younger Grace watches from her window as they bury the body. Grace has been blackmailing Rowena with this knowledge. Miles describes in detail how Rowena had plotted the murder to end Grace's blackmail and pinned the murder on Hill. Miles asks how she intends to keep him quiet, implying she might sleep with him, since he has long lusted after her. However, Rowena stabs him to death and ransacks the kitchen. She then calls the police, claiming to have been attacked by Miles and that he might have been the real murderer. The film ends with a man looking out of a neighboring window, presumably having witnessed what really happened.
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Some of the scenes were filmed in the lobby of the new 7 World Trade Center, before its opening in March 2006.
Perfect Stranger holds an approval rating of 10% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 142 reviews, with an average rating of 3.5/10. The site's critics' consensus reads: "Despite the presence of Halle Berry and Bruce Willis, Perfect Stranger is too convoluted to work, and features a twist ending that's irritating and superfluous. It's a techno-thriller without thrills." On Metacritic, the film holds an aggregated score of 31 out of 100 based on 31 critics, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said, "Foley fights a losing battle with Perfect Stranger, a dull, dumb and unforgivably dated thriller, free of thrills and any kind of perfection, save a genius for product placement" ... "it's a techno thriller that treats the already cliché topic of Web abuse with an idiotic sense of discovery."
The characters of Grace, Josie, and Mrs. Hill all have blogs dating back to September or October 2006 with YouTube videos of the respective actresses, in character, speaking the text of the entry with minor changes. This was a relatively new form of viral marketing similar to an alternate reality game.