Parents' Guide to

Perfect Strangers (Perfectos Desconocidos)

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Spanish-language dramedy deals with lots of adult topics.

Movie R 2019 104 minutes
Perfect Strangers (Perfectos Desconocidos) Poster Image

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This Mexican dramedy is talky and stagy, with revelations popping up at the usual intervals; it's also sophisticated, with nimble banter and occasionally good chemistry among the cast. (Depending on viewers' ages and frames of reference, it's likely to evoke the likes of The Big Chill or Tyler Perry's oeuvre, for better or worse.) But you have to wonder why people with such closely held secrets -- sure to be exposed by the game -- would agree to play. Each of the couples has clear issues from the start, making it sometimes unpleasant to be around them. Imagine being at a dinner party with three couples who are close to each other but whom you don't know and who have no hesitation about bickering in front of you.

However, it's easy to see why this film has been remade so many times in such a short span, as it's the kind of dialogue-heavy piece that actors love -- and a challenge for directors to make "cinematic." This iteration only partially meets that challenge. Still, there are moments when the camaraderie feels real, and a couple of scenarios command attention. In one, as everyone listens, a loving father must give his daughter good advice as she considers losing her virginity. In another, mistaken identity unearths buried prejudices within the group, and one member is forced to see the effect of such bigotry from an unexpected side. Otherwise, Perfectos Desconocidos feels familiar and pat, even a bit on the telenovela side. Perhaps its most interesting aspect is its ending (no spoilers here), which could prompt some thoughtful discussion.

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