Perfect Strangers - Review 6

SBS Movie Show
by David Stratton and Margaret Pomerants
Rating: **** (4 stars)

PERFECT STRANGERS is one of the best films to come from New Zealand in recent years.

Margaret: Tonight, 'your place or mine?' a tryst with a twist in Perfect Strangers

David: Boofheads are doin' it for themselves in Gettin' Square

Margaret: And the restoration of Melville's ice cold noir, The Red Circle

David: Good evening

Margaret: Hi

David: There's also the birth of a nation in Gods And Generals

Margaret: And the frustrated folkies of Finding Joy

David: But first to the tense tango of Perfect Strangers


David: Melanie, Rachael Blake, lives alone in a small city on New Zealand's South Island; she works in a fish and chip shop and, on Saturday nights, she goes drinking with her friends, hoping to find a man. On this particular night she meets a stranger, Sam Neill, who offers to take her back to his place...


David: Gaylene Preston's very accomplished film skill-fully plays with genre expectations. It starts out like a thriller in which a vulnerable woman apparently makes the fatal mistake of going off with a man she doesn't know, but a series of twists and turns, plus an unexpectedly mordant sense of humour, keeps the audience guessing. Rachael Blake, so wonderful in LANTANA, gives another superb performance here, intelligent and touching, while Sam Neill successfully combines charm and menace as the stranger who changes Melanie's life. It's virtually a two-hander - though a third character appears late in the day - and the other star of the film is the landscape, the wintry west coast of the South Island which is so evocatively photographed by Alun Bollinger.