[b][font=Verdana][size=2]PERFECT STRANGERS (2004)
[/b]**SPOILERS, IN "THE BAD" SECTION**
[/u]--Though the cast is relatively unknown, aside for Sam Neill, they all turn in very good performances. Neill himself seems to walk through the part - he does it well, but the character doesn't really challenge his abilities that much. He did have some stellar acting moments though. It's also good to briefly see ex-Shortland Street and "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" actress Robyn Malcolm getting more work - I love her! The star revelation here is Rachael Blake, who was also very good in "Lantana". The Western Australian actress believably portrays Melanie's ever-changing character. She turns in a performance of the highest order. Give this woman more acting jobs!
--Director Gaylene Preston seems to know the South Island and know it well, and she took advantage of the scenery. There was some truly beautiful cinematography in the film, especially on the island and out-to-sea scenes, which have a kind of nauseating realistic touch to them. It was great to see the amazing town of Westport being used as well, that place is what I consider to be my [i]real [/i]home, I grew up there!
[/u]--There is one point in the film when Joel Tobeck's character asks Melanie, "what's the big idea?" She replies "there is no big idea". This is how I feel about the film's plot. It's practically wafer-thin. A woman is kidnapped by a man on an island then strange and 'thrilling' things happen. Pah. I've seen this plot done many times before, and done much better. After things seem to get going, they drop again, and quite a while before the end I was bored senseless. The film just drags on for too damn long, I wished it would end already. We're left to watch the characters making their way up the forest, along the beach and to the cabin many times over. There are lots of absolutely useless sequences, which never come up again in the 'plot' (the gun training being one of many). Overall, plot-wise? Definitely not a success, this is the film's main downfall.
--I felt no real connection to any of the characters, and didn't feel that any of the characters had any connection either. Sam Neill's character (simply 'the man') is never given much development, as for most of the film he is basically a ghostly apparition. Rachael Blake's Melanie was engaging enough at the start, and when I felt like I knew her, the screenwriter turned it completely around so her character changed completely. At the start, she was like "I hate the bush" and suddenly she's adapting to it like she's lived there for 25 years. Then, thanks to the death of someone she either hated or never even knew at all, she goes nuts and starts killing people. As for the relationships, none of them really sparked much interest. Like the film overall, Melanie and the man's relationship was interesting at the start but spiralled quickly out of control. Joel Tobeck's character and Melanie's romantic involvement came out of nowhere and ultimately made the aforementioned Melanie/man relationship seem utterly pointless.
--I noticed quite a few continuity errors in this film. When Rachael wakes up one morning she looks outside and it's pissing with rain. But then she takes the key from the man and runs outside; it's perfectly fine weather. In the same sequence, she sees the boat overturned, only for it to be upright and ready for sailing a few scenes later.
--I'm happy Gaylene Preston got to make a movie, but I didn?t feel that she was really trying to connect with her audience, trying to teach them something or reach out to them ALA "Whale Rider". She was basically just directing a crappy script. It wasn't a passionate piece, it isn't memorable and ultimately it doesn't work. Very unusual for an NZ film.
[/u]4/10 - I love seeing New Zealanders successful in making films, and well done Gaylene Preston, but note that just because it?s an NZ film, doesn't make it a GOOD film. "Perfect Strangers" is all scenery, no substance.
[u]IF YOU LIKED THIS MOVIE I RECOMMEND:
[/u]Head Above Water (7/10)
The Locals (8/10)
The Piano (9/10)
Whale Rider (10/10)