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Perfect Strangers

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Gaylene Preston

When Melanie goes home from the pub with the best looking man in the room, she’s captivated by his charm and attentiveness. He sails her away to his ‘castle’ – a rundown shack on a deserted island. But as his passion becomes obsession … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: Gaylene Preston
1 review about Perfect Strangers

Your place or mine?

  • Nov 14, 2007
If you're reading this review, you probably see a lot more movies than I do. Today I chose PERFECT STRANGERS because of my sentimental attachment to all things New Zealand, and it didn't disappoint me.

The movie starts with a routine plot -- Melanie, a working-class New Zealand girl, goes home from the pub with a sexy stranger. "Home" turns out to be a remote island and the sexy stranger turns out to be mad, bad and dangerous to know. While trying to escape, Melanie wounds him fatally.

From there the plot goes bizarro -- or perhaps, just deeply disturbed. Although it's twisted, this movie is not heavily plotted or deeply suspenseful, nor is there intense dialogue to occupy the viewer's attention. That feels like a good thing in this movie because there are other elements to absorb you.

The first attention-grabber is New Zealand native son Sam Neill. He frightens and reassures with mesmerizing tone and expression. His best line, the one in which his obsession is revealed, is his sine qua non for sex: "You have to love me! Do you love me?" The rest of the cast (Australian Rachael Blake, New Zealander Joel Tobeck) give reasonably convincing performances though without the depth of character seen in a more elaborately written movie like Whale Rider.

The second delight is the sound track. The New Zealand film industry is a wonderful showcase for local musical talent, and I was pleased to hear tracks by Neil Finn (Crowded House, Split Enz), Don McGlashan (Front Lawn, The Muttonbirds), Barry Saunders (The Warratahs), Janet Roddick (Six Volts) and R & B guitarist Hammond Gamble. There is even a Puccini aria by Dame Malvina Major performing with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. The music is well integrated to the rest of the movie, and I'd watch the movie again just to listen more closely to the track.

It's easy to film a visually satisfying movie in New Zealand (The Piano, The Lord Of The Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Full Screen Edition), Heavenly Creatures) and this movie is certainly moody and beautiful. The cinematographer, Alun Bollinger, worked on those projects and knows how to get the most from the sometimes daunting land- and seascapes. You'll need to actually watch this movie, as much of it happens visually and not with dialogue.

Writer/Producer/Director Gaylene Preston put together a package that was just ambitious enough for her resources, and for me it all worked beautifully. I've admitted my biases so while I recommend this movie, please decide for yourself whether it might work for you. If you DO choose it, be sure to stay for the unexpected ending: it's done in that campy Down Under style (Strictly Ballroom; The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert).

Altogether a rewarding little movie from an ambitious little country.

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