Based on the novel by Ian McEwan, with a screenplay by playwright Harold Pinter, THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS is a story of decadence and decay, sexual obsession and violence.
Colin (Rupert Everett) and Mary (Natasha Richardson) are a naive young English couple vacationing in Venice. One night they become lost in the winding streets and encounter Robert (Christopher Walken), a dapper Italian who speaks excellent English and graciously escorts them to his out-of-the-way
restaurant. Later, Mary and Colin visit Robert's palatial apartment, where they meet his beautiful crippled wife, Caroline (Helen Mirren). The visit quickly becomes strained: there is something alluring, but disturbingly off-kilter, about the older couple. Before long, the innocents are lured into
a bizarre web of sexual gamesmanship and murder.
Former Calvinist and critic Paul Schrader, who has written and/or directed such films as AMERICAN GIGOLO, the remake of CAT PEOPLE and the biopic MISHIMA, is no stranger to provocative subject matter. But depravity is a tricky thing to make concrete, and film is a resolutely literal medium. The
risk of looking silly is tremendously high--many films have aspired to decadence and achieved unintended camp. Schrader plunges in fearlessly, attempting to generate a sense of erotic menace through location and such devices as gliding steadicam shots that sweep through sumptuous surroundings,
devouring them in every detail without ever pausing. Mirren's and Walken's brittle, mannered performances unquestionably add to the sense that something is ominously wrong, even early on on the film. But overall, THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS seems tremendously overwrought for no good reason.
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: Based on the novel by Ian McEwan, with a screenplay by playwright Harold Pinter, THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS is a story of decadence and decay, sexual obsession and violence. Colin (Rupert Everett) and Mary (Natasha Richardson) are a naive young English coup… (more)