Perfect Strangers : Life in the Black Box
How do you feel when someone takes your smartphone and goes through it? Don’t you feel uncomfortable? Even if there is nothing earth-shattering on your phone, don’t you feel a bit nervous, or rather uneasy at least? Even if you deny it, you do. Even if you claim you have nothing to hide, you do have something. We all are secretive to certain extent, it is in our nature. We all lie, we all hide certain things. It is the basic human characteristic, after all. Our smartphones, in a weird way, are like our confession boxes. They know everything, the things we do not tell anyone. The things we search about, but too embarrass to speak about. We bare our lives to those black boxes. And when someone other than us opens those boxes, the trouble begins and for some of us, the trouble turns into catastrophe.
Seven close friends, three couple and a single guy are at a dinner party. One of them casually claims to be squeaky clean when it comes to having secrets and suggests a game where everyone shares everything on their smartphones and eventually they all play it. This is the basic plot of Italian director Paolo Genovese’s “Perfect Strangers”, which as a film is absolutely brilliant.
From the plot outline, you can clearly understand what happens in this movie and while watching it, right from the point where the game kicks off, you know things are about to go very, very wrong for the characters and you wait for that to happen. And it goes exactly how you predict. But the execution is what keeps you glued to it. In a movie, where the main characters do nothing but talking inside one house, the writing is the most important thing and the screenplay writers (there are five of them, including the director himself) do a great job in that department, which in my opinion is the main reason for this movie being a winner. As I have a thing for conversation based movies, this one works extremely well for me.
The Italian cast does a fine job, with each of them doing justice to their respective characters. And because of the smartly written taught screenplay each one of them gets almost equal amount of space and nobody feels left out. The direction is masterful. Even though they look very simple and easily relatable, these kinds of films are not exactly that easy to handle; but the director manages to excel at that difficult job.
Now, the ending, and a necessary paragraph change. Because the ending of this movie is very important and really cleaver, I tell you. After following a straight narrative for the most part, the movie changes its course in the final five minutes and offers you a twisted, very interesting ending which eventually makes it an even better movie, than what it actually is. It is the type of ending about which people will google for explanation, talk in the movie discussion groups and come up with their own, different explanations. A masterstroke from the director, I would say.
Ultimately, Perfect Strangers is a cinematic marvel, which is deliciously funny, even scary, somewhat intense and very entertaining all at the same time. It is one of those films which make you think and take a look at your lives and the way you are living inside those blackboxes, succumbing yourself to those completely. Also, it is the kind of movie which compels you to write something about it, which is exactly what I am doing. It is a movie that should be seen, discussed and appreciated.