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The Business of Strangers
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: JoBlo
The Business of Strangers order
Director:
Patrick Stettner

Actors:
Julia Stiles
Stockard Channing
Fred Weller

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An older, colder businesswoman meets a younger, hipper personal assistant in an airport hotel bar and proceeds to drink and share stories with the little lady. When a man wanders into the picture, the two women are suddenly thrown for a loop, as the dude's questionable past is something which both ladies now have the power to do something about. Drinks, camera...action!
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Do you wanna see a side of cutey-pie actress Julia Stiles that you've never seen before? (and I'm not talking about her ass-- although that would've been sweet as well). Well, saddle up to this piece of work, as Stiles plays a pill-popping, porno-watching, tattoo-sporting chickie with an attitude to boot, a brain to match and plenty of deviousness to go around. Props go out to the actress for 1) choosing to take a role so different than her usual style and 2) for coming across gangbusters and believable. Wow...I'm impressed. And the movie itself? It's also pretty good, with more of a "play" feel than a movie actually. The entire flick basically takes place in one area between three people and lasts about 80 minutes. It's also very similar to Richard Linklater's superior TAPE, almost like a "girl's version" of that movie. Both films deal with three people stuck in one place discussing sex, rape and consequences. TAPE is the better film though, mostly because it felt more real and oozed greater suspense into the proceedings.

This film is also good, especially all three of its actors, including Stockard Channing and Fred Weller, both of whom bring mucho credibility to their respective parts as well (and Channing doesn't seem to have aged much since GREASE either-- nice legs, lady!), but it did feel a tad contrived during some points and didn't generate any real tense scenes for me. Of course, this isn't intended to be a thriller in the first place, it's basically an engaging drama set between two women who use control, power and mind-games to work their own shit out. I enjoyed it and was pretty "into it" the whole time, even during the film's slower first 15 minutes, with Channing providing just enough of an interesting "business" angle for me to keep my mind set to the tube. Once she hooked up with Stiles though, things got more interesting for the rest of the way, and I also liked how director Stettner used various choice directing moves to up the ante in several scenes (the drinking in the bar sequence was particularly well executed). I definitely recommend this film to anyone who wants to see Stiles doing some different, anyone who enjoys theatrical production character pieces and anyone who has their own issues based in control, power and head tricks. A solid little flick.
THE EXTRAS
Not much going on in this department, I'm afraid. We do get the film's theatrical trailer, but it's really not worth your time since it seems to have been put together by someone who thought this was a sequel to I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER or something. Dude, it's a small dramatic character movie...drop the phony thriller angle and do your job right, a-hole.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A small but poignant film which gives us a woman's point of view on sexual politics, the ramifications of rape and the consequences thereof. By the way, I don't think I've ever seen any woman pound as many drinks back as Channing does in this movie (other than the cocktails I swigged down as I watched her drinking), and that in itself...is worth the rental (or for the shots of Stiles in her black bra, of course...nice!). The dvd itself isn't really worth buying though since it doesn't have anything extra on it, and the film's rewatch value is pretty slight (although I can see myself getting drunk and watching it back-to-back with TAPE-- by the way, am I the only one who thinks I have a drinking problem??).
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