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  • Saw Perfect Strangers at the Vancouver Film Fest, September 30, 2003. Well made, and thouroughly engaging movie that suprises at many turns. The simple story of a working class woman who goes home from a bar with an interesting stranger becomes first a story of kidnapping but then moves to a more complex story of love, obsession, and fear.

    As with many foreign films, Pefect Strangers is not afraid to mix fantasy with reality. And, it helps to have excellent direction, music, and above all acting by the two leads.

    I recommend this film if you get a chance to see it, or eventually rent it.
  • I borrowed this film on video knowing only that it might be good because of Sam Neill. The other actors were not well known, at least,to me. I liked this film very much because I watched the film unfold not knowing what's going to happen next. There were no obvious 'surprises,' which is why I think this film is clever. Rachael Blake was fantastic in this film. It is really her story. The film had the elements of a fine Hitchcock movie –- surprises are really unpredictable, not 'put-on unpredictable' as some films of the same genre tend to be. One might think because the jacket write-up talked about a woman going out with a stranger purposely knowing it to be a one-night stand that the film would be full of steamy sex scenes. Wrong. The one love scene with the 'ghost' Sam Neill actually was tender. This is the essence of the story – the strangeness of relationships. I don't understand why other reviewers 'didn't get it'. This is not a literal film that expects the audience to think that the story is based on reality. It is not. But it touches on human nature. Before some of you misunderstand me, I said 'literal' not 'literate,' which is an entirely different word. The film is very well edited, not slow, as far as I am concerned. 'Lost in Translation' and 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' are painfully slow films and it's only hype that made them known to the public. 'Cold Mountain' was unbearably slow. I didn't get to Renee Zelwegger's part – I gave up not even half-way through the film. 'Perfect Strangers' intrigued me and it deserves to be seen. It is not about looniness. It is about the narrowness of the line between sanity and insanity. Acting, editing, direction and photography were top-notch. Go see it. It will make you think. Some may think the ending is macabre, but if you view this film as an allegory, you will better appreciate the story. Just be sure you understand that the 2 main characters never really had a sexual relationship. It is all in the mind. C'mon, people, be literate, not literal and you'll enjoy this movie. The irony of this movie is that the 'villain' Sam Neill turns out to be of tender heart and the 'tough' Rachael Blake really a vulnerable woman.
  • This movie has been hanging out in the New Release section of blockbuster stores since the day it arrived on DVD around a year ago. That's because people keep re-renting it (no, not me...I bought my own copy). My praise will not do this movie justice. I have not seen Sam Neill act more convincingly in a movie. He got that mysterious stranger role down perfectly. Rachel Blake was extraordinary. You just couldn't take your eyes off either one of them (regardless of the condition they were in). This is a beautiful movie, with stunning actors, breathtaking scenery, and haunting music. While watching the movie, you'll find yourself asking yourself "what would I do?". You'll also say to yourself "I must get that soundtrack!" I highly recommend it! @-->--> Kris
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a beautiful looking, odd little film that leaves you wondering what the heck it's really about. It could be the most misconceived woman-in-peril movie in cinema history. It could be about the irresistible human need for companionship. It could be about the relentless affability of New Zealanders. Whatever it's about, I kinda liked it.

    Melanie (Rachael Blake) is the boss of a small café in a coastal New Zealand town. One night, she goes out on the town with her girlfriends and finds herself falling for the charms of a stranger (Sam Neill). He invites her back to his boat, where Melanie eventually passes out drunk. When she wakes the next morning, she finds herself stuck on the boat as the stranger steams toward his island home. At first, Melanie is unnerved but then she finds herself again falling for the stranger's charming sincerity. But when his creepy, unexplained obsession with her become unignorable and romantic temper explodes in a moment of violence, Melanie can no longer deny to herself that she's trapped on an island with a crazy person and is in serious trouble.

    From that point, the story takes several eccentric turns that aren't at all what you'd expect from this sort of scenario. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on how much you're willing to indulge this movie's peculiarities. It never becomes truly bizarre, yet it's off kilter enough to make you wonder if you're not getting the point the film is trying to make.

    Getting past the story, Perfect Strangers is very pretty. The scenery at the island is lovely and put to good use in the film, which has a very clear but subdued visual sense. Whether it's a body on the beach, a thicket of sticks woven together to cover a broken window or something as ordinary as a full bath tub, this movie has several memorable images.

    Rachael Blake is a handsome woman who manages to take both the strength and weakness in Melanie and make them both equally real and equally vital. This film takes Melanie in a very different direction and Blake has to subtly bring you along to a situation and a woman you weren't expecting. Sam Neill has to walk a tightrope as the charming stranger who becomes a threatening psycho, because he's never allowed to be simply a deranged stalker. He has to be both threatening and non-threatening, going beyond the two dimensional stereotype suggested by this sort of character.

    I liked Perfect Strangers. If you're looking for a melodramatic tale told with steely calm and that takes you in unconventional direction, you might want to give it a try.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I rented this last night with just the description of the movie on the DVD box cover. The casting was done very well and as the story unfolds of a woman (Rachel Blake) who meets a handsome man (Sam Neill) in a nightclub and proffers herself for the night, the subsequent kidnapping by him to a remote island seemed par for the course for a low budget movie ... but that's where any notion of predictability ends.

    The kidnapper's story wasn't a part of this movie. His history and character was left cloaked with mystery. For example, had he done this kind of thing before? And, what was his overall plan? The only thing made clear was that he had stalked her prior to her approaching him for the night and had planned to steal her away. Due to Sam Neill's gentle appearing role in characterization, it became clear he had his own demented agenda of what Melanie (Blake) was supposed to be like, which was displayed by the one act of violently striking her. If he had survived, this movie would have been predictable.

    After reaching the island and she fatally wounds him and attempts to keep him alive and to return back to shore dragging his dying body in his boat, she snapped. Even during the attempt of nursing him back to health I had mixed feelings about keeping this creep alive and thus, the movie succeeded in pulling me in further. As a result, this movie is more intriguing and psychological with the focus on the victim and various coping mechanisms. After all, when stuck on an island with no phone, electricity, no boat, no radio, and no seafaring knowledge and no land in sight along the horizon, I ask myself, what would I do? After being stranded and alone on the island she identified with her dead kidnapper and fantasized being in love with him. Along comes Bill (Joel Tobeck) arriving on the island and as mentally insane she had become, he takes her to do the vows, which is yet more oddity than irony. In the theme of how the movie unfolded, it made me wonder if Bill was part of her mental incapacitation and/or means of coping... a blend of harsh realities with self-mental death & horror.

    Focus was on the kidnapped victim for this movie, and in such a circumstance and given all the creative juices for this intriguing film, I gave it a 7 rating since it really is more than the standard fare of predictability and typical action genre. This was and is a "deeper" psychological thriller like no other and Blake's performance in carrying out the twists and depths of her changing mind and coping were done superbly. I felt that Sam Neill's performance was harmonious to what the writer was attempting to project and portray. This is a movie that stays with you for some while after watching, and if that was the intent, then it succeeded. Regarding my dustshelf, this would be a movie I may watch again when in one of my psyche modes.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    MAJOR SPOILERS

    This low budget flick starts off as a straightforward single female in peril thriller before changing tack midway through and heading down the single female goes a bit bonkers path. There's no warning, or apparent reason, for her sudden mental slide, but that's just one of many issues the film's writer and director fail to address. Why any bloke would want to marry a mad chick who whacked him over the head with a shovel and tied him up in a tool shed which she then takes pot shots at while talking to said bloke's dead/imaginary mate who she has recently murdered and thrown in a freezer is way beyond me. I know he lives alone on an island, but even so he can't be that desperate...

    Although the woman's descent into madness is unaccountably swift, the film plods along, neither knowing or seeming to care where it is going. The woman is never a sympathetic character, and neither her nor Sam Neill (who is considerably less bonkers, but still a little flaky all the same) are given any real back-story, so the viewer is given no reason to care what happens to them.

    This one's about as satisfying as a knife in the gut after a one-night stand...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    New Zealand has lately been offering some fantastic screen experiences and proving that it is more that just that place where Lord Of The Rings was made.

    Perfect Strangers is another memorable achievement from this country.

    Although many may find the story bizarre, it is in fact an interesting pyschological portrait of the current "mating game" that singles all over the world have to deal with. Just who are you taking home? Can the person in our mind's ever really be real?

    This film travels some interesting roads examining this theme. And best of all it is impossible to know where it will go next.

    For those who like predictable stories Perfect Strangers is not for you. But if you are interested in going somewhere very different in your cinematic Journey you shouldn't miss this.
  • I really enjoyed this film, the plot had some interesting twists (although at times it was a little difficult to follow).

    The title helps in understanding the film - "Perfect Strangers" tells us that only a stranger *can* be perfect.

    This is the story of a woman who has been through several failed relationships, and is cynical about the likelihood of ever meeting someone she can trust and who will love her forever.

    After being kidnapped by 'The Man', Melanie eventually realises that at last she has met the perfect man who will love her no matter what. She falls deeply in love with him, and does everything she can to stay with him on the island.

    In the end he continues to be perfect only because he remains forever a stranger.
  • jax7135 February 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    Yet another film boondoggled by sophomoric "artistic vision." What starts out as a potentially interesting story - a rather hum drum woman who leads a hum drum life meets an unusual, perhaps loony, man on one of her outings to a local singles bar - ends in the most mundane psychotic break ever depicted on screen. This could have been a fairly engrossing dramedy about the desire to be in love, but it went off-topic into a macabre rendition of guilt and mental illness. Though the "need" to be in love becomes the overriding emotion in this story, it is presented in a grotesque, yet surprisingly boring, way. The story physically isolates the characters from the rest of the world by putting them on an island, but the real world is not that far away so it makes the happenings on the island less believable and, in fact, emphasizes the plot holes. The ending is just plain dumb and I wondered if Melanie was really pregnant or if she was having what I believe is called an hysterical pregnancy wherein a woman experiences all the symptoms but isn't really going to have a baby.

    This is a good movie for insomniacs who won't be kept awake too long. I actually nodded off in the middle and had to rewind, but found I hadn't missed anything important. One star for adequate acting by the principals even though they didn't have much of a script to work with.
  • Yeah. Great movie. All about how ugly life is if you don't ever question anything. two nitwits act out the different imperatives of their egos and we have murder and tedium. This movie gets made because Canada, New Zealand and to some extent, Australia, have some kind of post-colonial guilt going on and this has backfired into 'all women directors must get their movies published' However, Hollywood only publishes crap by men so I guess its all even.

    This movie Isn't uplifiting, Isn't kind, Isn't beautiful, Isn't clever, Isn't witty.

    It has few redeeming qualities except for the wild landscape. Hey! take out the people and the story and this is one HELL of a nature documentary.

    If you see this movie and think that it 'shows life as it really is', you need to get out more. And to the person who said it describes the 'dating scene' out there, I say: bollocks.

    Oh and the acting wasn't great either.
  • frodolives5 February 2004
    Warning: Spoilers
    I went into this movie slightly apprehensive that it would be another splatterfest along the lines of girl goes with attractive stranger and finds out she's with a madman, (or the Devil - it's a fairytale motive that seems to have given rise to quite a few film and tv plots) but I was pleasantly surprised that the story, although it seemed to go down that way rather faster than usual, eventually twisted and turned away and into some highly unusual (and controversial?) territory - and though I guess the message it brings across about the nature of attraction and human relationships (especially those between guys 'n gals) is a deeply pessimistic one, I have to say it's one I can totally relate to.

    There was a moment in about the middle of the movie when I thought, hey, the story is over now, what can possibly happen for the next hour or so? But it was then that it really got interesting - whereas up to that point, I kept having the feeling that I'd seen that movie before, by the end that was definitely not the case any more.

    Bother having to be so cryptic, to avoid spoilers... I'd say, if you like kiwi movies of the more twisted and cryptic kind, if you like things like Jane Campion's radical explorations of the nature of sexual desire, then this movie is definitely for you - it also has some great acting and, being shot in NZ, some impressive shots of raw nature, though it draws much less on the physical beauty of the place than some other movies we've seen come out of here.

    I wouldn't say it's the greatest movie I've ever seen (but then it's hard to compete with The Lord of the Rings (((grin)))) - but it certainly drew me in and was well worth the money and time invested.
  • True is, if I haven't been many years the Sam Neill's fan I'd have never rented videotape with this movie. First I have read user comments at this pages and I thought this movie is something quite modern, unwatchable, not too much comprehensible. Finally, when i have watched it, I was pleasantly surprised. By my mean story about woman who sank up under influence insane handsome man is really great movie. I like this unique mix romance, a little humor, a little horror and psychology used in this movie. It is refreshing and remarkable thing inside the flood many and many constantly similar productions from the all world. If you prefer not traditional story, if you like emotional movies, if you like great camera, and if you don't persist at traditional happy ends, you would love this movie.
  • I think Roger Ebert would have a tough time reviewing this movie. The story begins with our main character Melanie who is partying hard at the local pub when she accepts an obvious one night stand from The Man (Sam Neil)

    Normally, one would expect a steamy sex scene to liven things up but the movie is rated PG 13 so instead Melanie passes out on the boat.

    Waking up the following day from an intense hangover, Melanie discovers that The Man has taken her to a deserted island where he apparently lives and now we expect the obvious to happen.

    The Man is a psycho who will hold her hostage on the island. She will try to escape numerous times but will fail. And in the end, he will probably get killed and she will get away.

    Instead The Man gets hurt, and a weird series of events take place where Melanie is now going psychotic. Thats the biggest problem (well one of the biggest). In a film where one is being held prisoner, that is the person we are supposed to like and care about but eventually I felt sorry for Neils character who is supposed to be the bad guy. And the ending makes no sense at all.

    Something like this would work better in a sequel to 'Dazed And Confused."
  • I liked this movie (or at least I think so... I'm not quite sure). It's very strange, but funny.

    Maybe it's the best role in which I've seen Sam Neill, even though I believe he doesn't convince completely in that scene in which he gets rough and hit the girl.

    In the other hand she does a good job (and during all the movie!!): I liked it, despite she's not very famous here in Spain. It's the first of her movies I have heard...

    The best: The end (frightening!)
  • I was reminded slightly of a current Australian release, 'Japanese story" which is also largely a two-hander, and has lots of time spent in remote locations. And it too has a fairly major plot twist along the way. But comparisons run out there. Rachael Blake is just as fine an actress as Toni Collette, but what she has to do here seems quite ludicrous. I get concerned when people begin to talk to whitegoods, for instance. You might find that at one point you think, where can this film go from here? And I don't think that question is resolved at all. The second half of the film in particular gets more and more bizarre and kooky, and even at the end I think many people would say "huh?'. Sam Neill was OK too, but I can't for the life of me think what possessed him to do this film. As a student film it would be acceptable, but not as a general release.
  • A previous previewer said that this was in his/her opinion "like a small student movie", like that would be something bad(?). Anyway, there is nothing amateurish or "student" in this movie. Maybe the guy was talking about the simplicity and small-scaleness of the film. Yes, it is that. But simplicity is/can be very brave and rare today. Many times filmmakers try to hide their lack of ideas under a chaos of different ideas and technical complexity.

    This was not the greatest masterpiece of all time, but it was well worth watching. The script was very clever, and the directing and the "flow" of the movie was very well made. Sam Neill and the lead actress were very good castings for these roles. I think it's refreshing to see movies that don't try to be anything else than what they are. I rate this movie not compared to any other movies I've seen, but as an independent being and work.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is an off-beat, wry thriller of the sub-Hitchcock "lone female in peril" genre from a country whose inhabitants find it difficult to take themselves seriously.

    Rachel Blake's Melissa is a woman past the first flush of beauty. After a hard day in a Westport fish and chip shop, she picks up handsome, suave charming Sam Neil in a bar, and he sweeps her off in his well-appointed fishing boat to his place, a shack on a lonely offshore island. She wakes up next morning with – Sam Neil, kidnapper and possible murderer. Being the plucky sort she gets in first and stabs him, and finds herself looking after him and falling in love. Unfortunately, she can not get him to medical help and he dies. No matter, there's this solar powered deep freeze and she puts him among the chickens and hams, happy to chat to him. But then another man arrives on the island, and Sam's ghost hasn't left.

    The tale is told largely from Melissa's point of view and, being in need of love it's plausible she might fall for a man who might turn out to be her murderer. It's odd that she so readily transfers her affections to someone else. Does she really think Sam is still around? Has she gone nuts? Rachael Blake is perfect as Melissa; a bit battered by life but still sexy, and with a single minded determination to stay alive. Hitchcock probably would approve of Melissa's assertiveness (due to his wife's influence he was a bit of a closet feminist). Sam Neil is always good as a mysterious stranger, though he must wake up sometimes and ask "who the hell am I this morning?" (He has never really bettered his 1983 performance as the title character in "Reilly, Ace of Spies".) Here, he is not called upon to explain his character, which is just as well. Sam isn't in to explanations.

    The West Coast setting, lush and bleak at the same time, is terrific and it's a nice film to watch, but it is an odd mixture – thriller looping into a caper-comedy. Very NZ though. I think Hitchcock would have liked it a bit more than the work of some of his American and French followers.
  • s31602925 November 2003
    Perfect Strangers is an unfortunate example of the third rate product government film finance initiatives can churn out. Essentially, it's a case of too few plot ideas stretched to 90 minutes by a poor screenwriter. As a result I really enjoyed 2 of the 5 reels of film, but almost fell asleep during the other three.

    What started out as an interesting, plausible story quickly degenerated as the story rapidly grew more and more irrational. Ultimately, two thirds of the film was spent aimlessly tracking over stale ground. The major points of the plot are tenuously linked together through a thin and illogical thread.

    Hands down, Perfect Strangers contains the worst acting of Sam Neil's erratic career (which is a shame as it also contains some of Rachel Blake's best).

    I was bitterly disappointed in Perfect Strangers.
  • ...sings Neil Finn in a catchy Crowded House song that plays at several points in the film. Could have been written especially for the film, and maybe it was, it's so apt.

    What a wonderful and surprising ride this movie was. Starts with a plot that's like standard Hollywood thriller fair, but then... wow.

    Rachel Blake is amazing to watch in a brave performance of an unusual character-journey, to say the least. It's also a tribute to the mercurial power of Sam Neil that I wasn't once distracted enough to expect a dinosaur to spring from the bushes or a mute Holly Hunter to start playing a piano, despite the familiar image of Sam Niel against lush island locations.

    Great photography of such great NZ locations. Great humour, dialogue and direction from Gaylene Preston.

    I'd like to see another Gaylene Preston film soon and I'm sorry to see nothing new is listed currently here for her. Buy the DVD - it's a crime it was so cheap!!!
  • I disagree with the previous comment. The movie possesses enough drama and suspense to keep the viewers interested until the very end. This is the story of two people who could have been happy together under different circumstances. It's also the story of what happens when people make the wrong choice. The movie asks the question what makes a certain choice the wrong one and points out that every choice could be both right and wrong. The music is well chosen, and the combination between Puccini's opera "Madam Butterfly" and a number of contemporary ballads enhances the atmosphere. The ending is unexpected and leaves the viewer surprised and delighted at the same time.
  • maxolander3 January 2007
    I came in to this movie after the man was wounded. As they were beginning to grow found of one another..I was captivated. Rachael Blake did a wonderful Performance..Sam, was excellent, so handsome Go Sam. Wow. And Rachaels expression is heart warming, as she first noticed Sam at her reception. As she danced gracefully between the two men, it is amazing. and when she dances with Sam the passion flows. The acting was well done by the entire cast. The directing, Bravo....Clearly, she had found a love , that she can not live with out, And he loved her as well., Her mind simply would not allow her to lose such a love.As she had found with The Man.
  • This film was by far the worst that I have ever seen. The plot was flat and confusing with unexplained twists that only seem to weaken the already nonsensical plot. Many of the points seemed unnecessary while other important parts were rushed or skipped altogether. Too much was thrown in too fast while many scenes seemed to have nothing to do with the previous one, leaving the audience in a state of confusion and unsure of what to think or expect. In all, I found it to be anti-climatic, confusing, poorly executed, and pathetically hilarious. I do not recommend this film, unless you would enjoy a complete disaster on screen.
  • I rented this while I was staying in NZ and sat down prepared for a love story that turns into something like Fatal Attraction or something. Not at all. I appreciate the plot twists and enjoyed the extreme weirdness. Not horrible but not fantastic either ( in my opinion.

    All in all I think the acting was pretty believable, but there are some plot holes (pretty gaping ones actually). However the story is pretty consistent with details from the beginning being carried over through the end.

    I will look for movies with the lead actress and this director again in the future.

    Enjoyable for those with twisted minds.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Why does people who has seen a movie they think are bad but still have so much to say about it? Something must have gotten through them...

    Anyway, I was having a channel called Showtime on one night I couldn't sleep. I wanted to see what movie was coming up next and hoped it was something good.

    I had never heard of a movie called Perfect Strangers but I wanted to check it out, even though I was kind of skeptical it would be a love movie with a happy ending - those movies I hate so much....

    But the movie surprised me. I never knew what was going to happen next. A woman meets a man on a nightclub. I was afraid this would be one night stand kind of movie but luckily I was wrong! And the famous line Your place or mine? Is where the story begin.

    The woman decide to go to his house which turns out to be a houseboat. She spends the night there as she pass out and the man (Sam Neill, one of my fave actors) takes her to her sea and to an island where it's his real home. She gets scared and demand him to take her home but he doesn't listen.

    He brings her home to his place on the iceland and treat her like she is someone special and she get sucpicious that he's been like this to many women before her. He knows what he wants her to be and he get mad when all she want to do is to go home and pretend like nothing has ever happened.

    He promise her to bring her back home tomorrow but she feels trapped. That night she steals hs key to get out and escape but he scares her when he suddenly is awake and she automatically stabs him with the kitchen knife in her hand.

    She's now forced to stay and take care of him 'cause she doesn't know where to go if she leaves the island cause she isn't well known in the sea. She stays with him and being his nurse. She has to do everything for him as he lays in the bed not able to do anything. He tells her things and she begings to open herself a little for him but she doesn't want to admit she's falling in love with him and doesn't believe everything he's saying about her.

    One day the man gets worse and she takes him to the boat to try to get him to a hospital to save his life but he dies onboard. She get upset and bring him back on the island. She stays at his place and hide his body in the freezer outside of the house. Even though he's dead she still see him, pretendig that he's still alive. That's her way to survive where she is.

    This is movie with many twists and tuns and different genres, kind of like a Hitcock movie sort of way. Mystery and suspense, all at once.

    The performances is great, the nature is awesome and this is finally not a Hollywood movie. Good movies can be made without Hollywood too. And this movie proves is.

    And if you see this movie more than once you always discover something new about it and after just seeing it once it's a movie you won't forget so easily. It stays with you. It's a good sign even though you think it's good or bad. It's a worth watch.
  • jschmidt5053 January 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    I'm not sure what this film is really about but I don't think that it's any of the comments that I've read.

    There are a number of items to consider. The island appears to be both tropical (palm trees) and cold - the woman is dressed for cold and looks cold.

    When the woman arrives and awakes, her clothes are there, none of the guy's clothes are around......all of her clothes are around.

    When she tries to escape, the boat is first at low tide, then afloat at high tide when she succeeds. I'm sure that there's a message there somewhere.

    She can't operate the boat radio, then she navigates it as a captain.

    The old flame that reappears....is he killed when she uses the rifle? Are one or both of the men aspects of her personality? He takes and clearly enjoys the candlelit bath.
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