The Business of Strangers

Critics Consensus

The Business of Strangers showcases a complex, compelling performance by Channing. Her interactions and clashes with Stiles make for riveting viewing.

80%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 92

51%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,626
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Movie Info

Two women on different ends of the spectrum of corporate power come together with explosive results in this drama. Julie Styron (Stockard Channing) is a successful executive with a major international corporation who is starting to feel the pressure of her position; she has few friends and no family to buffer her from the responsibilities of her work, and she suspects that the company's CEO is thinking about replacing her. Trying to get one step ahead, she meets with the slightly manipulative headhunter Nick Harris (Frederick Weller). Julie's anxieties come to a head when she has to give a major out-of-town presentation without the help of her assistant Paula Murphy (Julia Stiles), who failed to show up on time. Furious, Julie gives Paula a severe dressing down before firing her, but then Julie is called into a meeting with Nick in which she gets some unexpected news -- she's going to be taking over his job. Eager to celebrate, Julie runs into Paula, and tries to apologize for their earlier encounter by offering her a hotel room for the night and a few drinks. In time, Nick also turns up at the hotel and the women - upon running into him - realize that he is a mutual acquaintance. Later, Paula shares a secret with Julie -- Nick raped one of her friends while they were in college, and since then Paula has pondered taking revenge against him. Julie is eventually drawn into Paula's plan when they encounter Nick later that evening. But there may be more to Paula than meets the eye. The Business of Strangers was the first feature from writer and director Patrick Stettner; the film was shown in competition at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.

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Critic Reviews for The Business of Strangers

All Critics (92) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (74) | Rotten (18)

  • The inspired pairing of Channing and Stiles creates real dramatic fireworks.

    Apr 15, 2002 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Neil Smith

    BBC.com
    Top Critic
  • May be a hermetically sealed experience, but it is also a brilliantly integrated one.

    Jan 18, 2002 | Full Review…
  • The core pleasure of the film is the complex and precise performance by the underrated talent Channing.

    Jan 18, 2002 | Rating: 3/4
  • This is an impressive debut for Stettner and an even more impressive showcase for Channing and Stiles.

    Jan 17, 2002
  • Leaves you with plenty to think about regarding the demands society places on working women, and the scorn they face when they choose career over family.

    Jan 17, 2002
  • It has almost nothing to do with women; it's about men's fantasies of women.

    Dec 14, 2001 | Rating: 3.5/5

Audience Reviews for The Business of Strangers

  • Mar 31, 2012
    Business of Strangers is yet another smart, if not strange, indie drama from IFC. The dynamic between the two lead actresses, Julia Stiles and Stockard Channing, is engrossing, and helps make the film a powerful and effective character study. The script is strong, and features a number of very interesting dialogue exchanges. I would have liked the running time to be a bit longer, and perhaps give so more insight into Julia Stiles' character. As such, the ending didn't quite work for me. The motivations and supposed apparent vulnerabilities she had earlier in the film seem undermined by an ending that suggests a much different, probably sociopathic, person. So in that respect, the film can be thought of as a bit uneven. Still, predominately effective and always interesting. 3.5/5 stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • May 19, 2010
    What was the point of it all???
    Brody M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 14, 2009
    A simple stories about strangers who click and seek to get revenge on a man.
    Sunil J Super Reviewer
  • Jan 21, 2008
    Slight, but interesting. Julia Stiles plays troubled very well!
    Nicki M Super Reviewer

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