Aida Vucic | 29/01/2017
Perfect Strangers finds a friend in me. Directed by Paolo Genovese, this is a film that extends beyond borders and languages and touches on some universal truths.
Set against the backdrop of a dinner party, seven friends meet to enjoy one another’s company as well as the eclipse (an event that seems misplaced but later provides context). During the course of the meal, the friends muse on the necessity of phones and the secrets which they potentially hold, raising the question as to whether these friends truly know one another. In order to answer this question, a game is proposed. The rules are simple; each guest places their mobile phone on the table, if they receive a call, they answer the call but everyone has to hear it, and if they receive a text or email they have to read it aloud.
No one’s really interested in playing, but no one wants to appear as though they’re hiding something – so begins the games. As the night progresses, secrets are revealed, affairs exposed and accusations made. No one leaves unscathed by the events of the night. Even with these revelations, it’s the films twist ending that will have viewers questioning whether knowing is better than not knowing and living our lives blissfully ignorant.
Its surprisingly engaging for a film set entirely in one location over the course of one evening. Never is there a point where the audience loses interest, as we await the next revelation. This is probably due largely to the heavy use of dialogue, accompanied by the flamboyant hand gestures we all associate with the Italian culture. Although the film is fast paced and filled with humorous moments, it’s also grossly exaggerated. To begin with its difficult to envision a group of friends agreeing to such terms and secondly for all these secrets to be revealed over the course of one evening. Irrespective of these plot holes, Perfect Strangers is a great piece of Italian film making. Despite being a one-room chamber piece, it is edited together with such flourish and intensity Consuelo Catucci that the film never lags. Coupled with this is outstanding direction from Paolo Genovese, who paces the film perfectly, building up to a crescendo that is then perfectly undercut to create an even more effective emotive response from the audience. The burst of 90’s hits, such as ‘I Will Survive’, add to the theatrics of the film.
Even with the restricted timeframe, each character is given enough limelight to develop their story and personality. As a collective, the cast bounce off one another, providing a dynamic representation of a typical group of old friends catching up.
In a world which is governed by the ring tone or vibration of our phones, Perfect Strangers challenges us to question whom the rings, buzzes and vibrations of those around us are from, while also exposing the deceit behind the modern relationship as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A dark tale masquerading as a comedy, Perfect Strangers is a perfect example of great Italian cinema.