Perfect Stranger is a 2007 film, which means that as of today it can even be called old. However, while watching it in modern conditions, you will not feel that they are trying to “feed” you with outdated plot twists and directorial moves: as a thriller, it looks quite decent and soundly even after more than ten years. This is not to say that the idea of the “Perfect Stranger” is original and has never been used before; it cannot be said that a sophisticated viewer is incapable of predicting the outcome. However, watching this film is still interesting, and its ending still makes you at least a little bit surprised.
Halle Berry masterfully playing with our trust
Rowena Price – the character of Halle Berry – throughout almost the entire film seems to be an incorruptible, purposeful and respectable girl who desperately fights for justice. Perhaps, if Rowena were played by a less gifted actress, the effect of surprise would not be so effective. But Halle Berry knows how to play so that you believe her. In principle, she most often gets just such characters: responsible to the marrow of bones, kind-hearted, strong in spirit and indomitable in their desire to achieve the truth. Therefore, we trustingly swallow the bait and empathize with Rowena for almost an hour and a half, wishing her to succeed in exposing Harrison Hill.
“Indeed, in a world where you can be anything and anyone, it’s not difficult to forget who you really are,” writes Rowena in her article, which is read to us at the moment when the girl takes out the coveted bottle of poison from her locker … Just a few seconds, and from the most positive character, for whom we “rooted” from the very beginning of the film, she turns into the most insidious, ruthless and shameless villain with a sophisticated plan created with absolute indifference to the fate of other people. Did she believe for even a moment that she was fighting for a just cause? Or has she been masterfully playing with the feelings of other characters and viewers all this time?
The film does not give a definite answer. As if its creators are telling us: “If it makes it easier for you, you may think that she has mental problems, and she really did not remember what really happened. And if you are not afraid to admit that we were able to fool you, you can believe that she did not forget about it for a second. ”
Harrison Hill performed by Bruce Willis – nondescript and memorable
After the release of “The Perfect Stranger” in the film distribution, many considered it necessary to criticize Bruce Willis, whose character in this picture turned out to be not very charismatic. Whether Bruce Willis is to blame for this, or was it originally intended, is an open question. However, as well as the question of whether this character should have been a brighter personality.
In fairness, it is worth noting that, firstly, Bruce rarely plays negative characters, despite the fact that he embodies positive characters very skillfully, easily showing us completely different characters and personality traits. Second, Harrison Hill is not exactly an outright villain. Rather, he is one of those who can be called the “unpleasant type.” And thirdly, in this film he is still a minor person. The first plan is completely owned by Rowena Price, and Hill’s task is to create the necessary background for her stormy activities. And Bruce Willis copes with this task quite well. Looking at him in “The Perfect Stranger”, one just wants to curl his face with displeasure and be surprised that in other pictures the same man was able to cope with the role of a charismatic hero.
Miles Haley is another “nasty guy”
It can be said without much hesitation that there are no pleasant images in this film as such. And the character of Giovanni Ribisi – Rowena’s friend and assistant Miles Haley – is another confirmation of this. The fact that he met with Grace, and would not mind sleeping with Rowena herself, we do not immediately find out, but we still expect some kind of trick from Miles. He looks very suspicious: like a person about whom they talk about devils living in a still whirlpool.
It is worth noting that in the case of Miles Haley, the writers managed to avoid almost all clichés. Such a person who helps the main characters (and in the films of the 21st century most often acts as a kind of hacker), at the same time, strange, with painful fantasies, often underestimated, is in many films. And, perhaps, if in the end it was he who turned out to be the killer, or if at the end of the film he confessed his love to Rowena and vowed to keep her secret only because of his platonic feelings, it would be too boring and trite.
Fortunately, by the end of the film, Hayley is also fully “revealed”, and also from a negative point of view, which is why he becomes another victim of Rowena Price. And this is exactly what is needed with such an ending: the ruthless murder of a man, without which, in fact, Rowena’s entire plan to blame Harrison Hill for Grace’s death would surely have failed.
Permissiveness Brought by Anonymity
From the standpoint of the late 2010s, it is rather difficult to assess how well The Ideal Stranger deals with the issue of irresponsibility and permissiveness that anonymity on the Internet gave us. Moreover: in modern conditions, the trend is not so much towards anonymity, but, on the contrary, towards the complete personification of all their profiles on the network for each user. Nevertheless, it is obvious that with the advent of the World Wide Web, there have appeared many ways to hide, try on hundreds of masks, carry out any operation without witnesses, without evidence and evidence.
Judging by the way Rowena communicates with Hill over the network, and by what she writes in her final article, and even by the title of the picture, her creators considered this topic to be one of the central ones in their project. And we can say that it was disclosed for 2007 quite well.
Murder by murder by murder
Still, for the modern viewer it is the “thriller” component of this film that is much more interesting, and not the attempts of the scriptwriters to philosophize on the topic of user behavior on the Internet. The idea of murders committed to remove witnesses to previous murders is as old as the world, but always interesting when presented properly.
Perhaps the reason for this interest lies in part in the ambiguity of such situations. On the one hand, a sane person who has no moral problems will always confidently say that killing is bad, this is not an option. On the other hand, in such pictures, such killers are always shown to us not so bad: they say, the first murder was committed by accident, and then the person simply had no other choice, he panicked and could not think of anything better.
However, this is clearly not an excuse. And that such villains are perhaps the most terrible of all. For this, another witness is needed. He did not appear in the window so that we would think: “Well, but in fact everything has almost worked out.” He appeared there so that we could understand: a person with so much blood on his hands does not deserve a quiet life.