Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"PERFECT STRANGER"

Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi

"How far would you go to keep a secret?"

Cinema 2, Greenbelt 1

H2A


I had some time to kill between running errands so I thought I'd go watch a film. My choices were rather limited ("Wild Hogs", "The Hills have Eyes 2", "The Reaping") so I was left with this Halle Berry, Bruce Willis whodunit to entertain me.

Rowena or Ro for short (Halle Berry) is a New York based investigative journalist who normally goes undercover to do her exposes. Her somewhat estranged childhood friend Grace shows up one day with tales of a lascivious affair gone wrong with Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis), a sleek ad agency owner. A few days later, Grace is murdered so Ro decides to unravel Hill's suspicious involvement by disguising herself as a temp at his ad agency. With the help of her tech savvy geek friend, Miles (Giovanni Ribisi) she tries to weed out Hill through some elaborate online machinations. The film winds up after 109 minutes with a rather predictable twist framed by a significant parting shot.

The film tried its best to get the viewer engaged in its little plot. It had potential but somehow failed in its mission. It had the usual ingredients - flawed main character, presentation of conflict/crisis for dramatic effect, well blended supporting characters, a valid side plot to diffuse the tension, a twist in the last few minutes (predictable though). But somewhere in its course, it didn't live up to its expectations. I read it had 3 to 5 different endings which the director toyed with so I figure it affected the overall effect of the film. The editing department seemed to have slacked off and forgot to check the flow of the film with a certain amount of diligence. The director presented us with subtle clues every now and then with brief flashbacks to give Ro's character more dimension and depth. We get some blurry background details about her past in its aim to make her a well rounded character.

The two main issues working against this film are its predictability and credibility factors.
Rowena didn't exude this certain panache to make her character more believable. All she does is parade herself in short skirts and stilettos. She doesn't do much work except type seducing messages on her IM (Instant Messenger) using her "IOL" account. Something she couldn't even pull off on her own. OK granted that Ro wasn't really tech savvy, I couldn't believe she didn't figure out the main conflict in the film. She is supposed to be a hard nosed reporter with a hunger to expose the truth. Grace, her friend seemed rather distant to be someone she supposedly knew from childhood. I know they were estranged but I couldn't see a certain bond of friendship between them. And what about Miles? For someone who supposedly also works for the newspaper, most of his time is spent hacking away at programs to help his friend Ro pull off her disguise.

During the first half of the film we are led to believe that the steady buildup would lead to an explosive climax. The subtle use of brief flashbacks didn't contribute much. Certain aspects were not clearly explained. Although it is fairly easy to figure it out. I still didn't see the point of added footage just to prolong the movie much farther. The last few minutes seemed rather rushed. It looked like the director lost track of time so suddenly faced with an inconclusive ending, he wraps it all up in an instance. Perhaps it was an attempt to end the film on a suspenseful note, but by then you are just glad it was over.

Halle Berry in my opinion has never been much of an inventively creative actress. She mostly uses her sex appeal to get her by. In this film, she doesn't disappoint as proven by all those tight fitting outfits she wears. Bruce Willis is well being his usual self. A smirk here, a little twinkle in his eyes there, factoring in his charming wit to pull off this sleek and sleazy ad executive. Giovanni Ribisi as Miles is the only redeeming factor in this film. A geek with a festering deviant creepy behaviour, he looks like someone you won't want to mess with. You watch as he slowly unfolds into this creepy character without breaking a sweat and you think OK yikes so that's good acting.


This is one of those films which you can chalk up as a I.wanted.to.kill.time activity. Probably best you wait for it to be shown on cable TV but you don't actually watch it, you just leave the TV on while you are preparing dinner or something. Or one boring night you find yourself at the video store, you notice you've practically seen every single film on their neatly stacked shelves so to justify your presence there in the middle of the night, you grab this film just for the heck of it.

Yes alright, I guess you get my point, right?

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