Perfect Stranger

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Perfect Stranger Movie Poster Image
Silly thriller has creepy mix of sex, violence.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 109 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Murder, betrayal, blackmail, deception, bargaining for power and favors. No one here makes a morally sound choice.

Violence

Explicit shot of young woman's naked corpse; discussion of Grace's brutal murder (her eyes were filled with aggressive toxin); Harrison loses his temper at a deceptive employee and hits and pushes him, then turns his desk over; man threatens woman in his car; courtroom case concerning murder; flashback to a murder (blood on the wall as killer hits victim with pipe) leads to a secret burial at night; surprise stabbing in a kitchen produces blood on floor.

Sex

Politician/intern sex scandal; sexual slang ("stroke a man's d--k," "balls"); full-frontal shot of woman's naked corpse; several shots of Rowena in lace panties/bra ("exotic" mirror view and close-ups); several sexy dresses show cleavage and leg; consenting sex up against a wall (hidden voyeur watches; viewers mostly hear bumping and moaning, with the focus on the watcher's face); references to Harrison's "lesbian" assistant; shots of Harrison having sex with mistress through apartment window (gossip about his adultery includes the remark, "He's into some very kinky s--t"); flashbacks to incest committed by Rowena's apparent stepfather (could be her father) as he approaches/scares her in the bathroom; fashion show features models in underwear; (ridiculous) online flirting ("I'd like to get a fistful," etc.); references to "blue balls" and "deep throat" (in journalistic context); sexual photos (bondage and other activity) on computer screen.

Language

Repeated uses of "f--k," plus other profanity -- "s--t," "ass," "hell," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," and a scene that features repeated use of "bulls--t" in anger.

Consumerism

Repeated placements for Reebok and Victoria's Secret (they're clients for an advertising agency in the film), as well as mentions or visuals of Vaio laptop, Planter's nuts, Armani, Ben & Jerry's, Google.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking shots in celebration; drunken behavior in bar; other potables include whiskey, beer, pina coladas, and daiquiris; prescription pills in bathroom.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Halle Berry/Bruce Willis thriller -- which focuses on corporate deception and murder and has several sexually charged scenes -- is meant for adults. Violent imagery includes a decaying corpse in a morgue, flashbacks to a stepfather about to rape a little girl, a man's bloody murder and late-night burial, discussion of the effects of a dire poison, a threat made against a woman in a car, and a bloody stabbing death. Sexual content includes women in lingerie and sexy dresses, intercourse up against a wall (after a brief look, the camera cuts to man watching in the shadows), repeated references to Harrison's "lesbian" assistant, allusions to incest, sexual slang ("d--k," "balls"), graphic photos, and frequent sexual talk online. Four or five scenes feature drinking, at least twice to visible drunkenness, and there's a fair amount of swearing (mostly "f--k" and "s--t").

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCloonetroop April 9, 2008
Adult Written byhotboi April 9, 2008

Crazy ride...

This was a good film. I gave you a crazy ride to the very end. HB was great not only as an actor but she looked great.
Teen, 13 years old Written bysugarbabyburnn April 9, 2008

lots of profanity

uses the "f" word a lot. me and my friend even made a joke about it. ha. there is one scene where there is a lot of female nudity. the i.m. conversati... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2008

should of been rated pg 13

loved this movie viloncie is not that bad there is nudity shown and pornagrary

What's the story?

Rowena (Halle Berry) -- a New York City journalist who writes as "David Chase" -- prides herself on uncovering other people's secrets. When her story about a U.S. senator's sex scandal is squashed, she quits in a huff, protesting that it's another instance of "powerful men protecting powerful men." She then runs into a childhood friend, Grace (Nicki Aycox), who begs her to seek reprisal against just such a "powerful man": multimillionaire advertising exec Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis), who met Grace online, shared a bout of wild sex, then dumped her. Almost as soon as Rowena says she'll think about it, Grace turns up dead. Now Rowena's vengeance is personal.

Is it any good?

Another techno thriller in which the "techno" looks hopelessly out of date, Perfect Stranger would be laughable ... if its combination of violence and sex weren't so creepy. The movie deals with an ostensibly serious topic: namely, the many ways that contemporary life encourages "secrets" (that is, lies) -- in online relationships, undercover journalism, corporate espionage, and advertising. But it soon gets so mired in its protagonists' multiple pathologies that you wish they'd just come out in the open, act out their grudges, and get it over with.

Apparently unable to stop itself, PERFECT STRANGER piles on some nightmares for Rowena (she was traumatized by a bad stepfather as a child) and her ex, Cameron (Gary Dourdan), who shows up for steamy-seeming sex and an argument that has little to do with anything else. She's eventually so unable to keep track of her own actions that the movie's ostensible "twist" is less surprising than ridiculous.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why sex and violence often intersect in thrillers. How do movies and TV shows make sex seem bad or good? Do any of the characters in this movie use sex -- or even the idea of sex -- as a weapon? What messages does that send? Families can also discuss secrets. Is it ever good to keep secrets from people who trust you? What are the possible consequences of being caught in a lie or a secret?

Movie details

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