Comfort of Strangers - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Comfort of Strangers Reviews

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April 15, 2016
I have no idea what I just watched. Imagine a Nes Cafe advert from the 90's with Christopher Walken popping in and out every so often and acting fairly fucking creepy. No-one seems to notice. Then some mad stuff happens. You'll enjoy this more if you watch it like a comedy. Personally I laughed quite a bit. Anyway...Spoiler alert, it's pretty shite.
August 12, 2015
One naturally expects nothing less than that when one watches a Harold Pinter screenplay turned into a film. If you are not familiar with Pinter's plays then you might be with his screenplays The Servant (1963), The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) and Sleuth (2007). Pinter's most prominent trademark is his ability to render his screenplay adaptations completely independent of their original text. In other words, his Pinterisque touch does not transform but rather creates anew.

The Comfort of Strangers (1990) is based on the Ian McEwan's novel of the same name. Basically, the story is about Colin and Mary, a young couple who travel to Venice on a vacation to think about their future together. In Venice, they encounter an older couple, Robert and Caroline, who eventually turn their vacation and relationship upside down. I do not want to rant about how different Pinter's screenplay is from McEwan's novel. This is a closed deal. What strikes me as supremely beautiful is how Pinter manages to bring to light such psychological intensity and incendiary conflicts using the subtlest language imagined. It is almost like watching poetry in motion if that makes any sense.

It is out of the question that Pinter would not have accomplished that effect without Paul Schrader's exquisite talent, who is a screenwriter himself by the way (does Taxi Driver and Raging Bull ring a bell?). Schrader succeeds in giving Pinter's world the required mystical substance; the long and medium shots of the charming Venice, the camera pauses, the movement of actors, the choice of subliminal music... it all contributes to creating this metaphysical atmosphere felt only in classic paintings. Have you noticed the similarity between shots of Mary and Colin in bed and the paintings adoring the walls of Robert's apartment?... You're welcome.

The gender and power conflict that takes place in this kind of world is all symbolic and is expressed in allusions rather than direct words. Colin, played to good effect by Rupert Everett, is meant to be beautiful in picturesque way akin to that of Greek statues. His beautiful masculinity is to be contrasted with Robert's (played by the genius Christopher Walken) grotesque masculinity. Same can be said about Mary (Natasha Richardson) and Caroline (Helen Mirren) who represents two different aspects of femininity: passivity and servitude. The encounter between the young couple and their older counterparts might seem a little bit awkward in realistic narrative terms. Like seriously, who would go sleep at a strangers' house and let them take their clothes away? However, in symbolic terms, this confrontation is necessary to highlight the gender fluidity and power conflict in any relationship. Robert and Caroline are the distorted mirror that Colin and Mary see themselves into. They see the dark side of who they are and their future demise. The image they see in the mirror terrifies them and subconsciously pushes them to change to the opposite - to exchange roles. Colin sees in Robert the extreme end of masculinity and power he has been trying to practice on Mary. He becomes threatened and retreats to his beautiful, feminine self (something that Caroline and later Mary keeps referring to). Similarly, Mary sees in Caroline the extreme end of her docility and indecisiveness. She also becomes threatened and embraces her masculine self. This subversion of roles is quite evident in Colin and Mary's later sexual encounters and fantasies.

Whether this change was necessary or not and whether it has been brought about by the wrong catalyst (Robert and Caroline) or not are all questions Pinter leaves us with to ponder on. I do not care about the answers of those questions as much as I care about how enlightening and fascination watching this film has been.
January 1, 2015
Arty- beautiful, sexy, captivating, thrilling, spooky.
½ July 9, 2014
Venice never looked so good on film, but the narrative push never quite sits in. I mostly enjoyed looking at this film and hated almost all of the plot driving dialogue (which fails to drive the plot anywhere). Helen Mirren steals all of her scenes, as usual.
½ June 7, 2014
Sounded thrilling - promised great performances from Everett,Walken and Mirren. Venice street scenes unconvincing and struggled to see it through.
November 10, 2013
A story about a couple who are trying to assess what is the extent of their love and its eventual destruction by outsiders. I felt Rupert Everett sleep walked in this film but the rest of the cast is superb. A film like this would have been a goldmine under David Lynch.
February 26, 2013
As a Walken fan for over 20 years, I have no idea how this phenomenal movie has managed to pass me by for so long. Odd, chilling and just plain mesmerising; Yes, it's a bit far fetched at times, but all that is forgiven because there are so many masters at work on this one, including The King Of New York himself.
½ November 21, 2012
What a jackpot of talent and prestige. Three brilliant writers telling the story, populated by some of the very finest thespians working, lensed and scored by two Italian masters creating a harmonious composite of some of their very finest work, edited by De Palma's man. Yet somehow, of all these distinctive and gifted voices, screenwriter Harold Pinter's resonates the most. Even though he's seemingly just adapting another distinguished writer's novel, it's Pinter's economical and shrewdly stylized ear at work ridding the exposition of certainty and the characters of transparency, which is just about right for a psychological thriller so languid and lush that its true nature is only revealed at the very end.
½ April 7, 2012
"The Comfort of Strangers" is hardly groundbreaking. In fact most of the film is so insignificant that without the intriguing ending the film would have simply floated away. Thankfully the acting is top notch (Natasha Richardson, Rupert Everett, Christopher Walken and Helen Mirren) are all well suited to the material. They are skilled actors who do well with Harold Pinter's dialogue. In fact, "The Comfort of Strangers" would make a good companion piece to Pinter's older screenplay "The Servant." This picture is rather easy to read, simply put it's about the death of beauty but it's competently made and has an interesting ending making it worth at least one viewing.
½ November 25, 2011
strangely beautiful movie.
November 7, 2011
Awesome film, one of my favorite Mirren, rupert, walken, films on the planet. Its quite a freaky little film, I think this was the first time I saw her, I had no idea how amazing she would turn out and how she would blow my mind.
½ October 14, 2011
Christopher Walken no puede ser mas excentrico interpretando a Robert, un hombre que adopta a una pareja en vacaciones en Viena (Miranda Richardson y Rupert Everett). Aunque la trama raya en el absurdo y en la improbabilidad, esta pelicula vale la pena por la atmosfera generada por la maestria del director Schraeder y por el fotografo Dante Spinotti, por la magnifica actuacion de Walken y por la extrana y perversa forma en la que esta cinta penetra en el ojo, el cerebro y el alma del espectador. P.d. Recuerdo un "sketch" del show de los Muppets e el que Christopher Walken adopta a Rene y a Miss Piggy que deberia estar en el complemento del DVD.
October 14, 2011
It doesn't make any sense.
August 4, 2011
In this erotic thriller, a young English couple on vacation in Venice find themselves seduced by a mysterious older couple. Mary (Natasha Richardson) and Colin (Rupert Everett) have come to Italy to chart the future of their troubled relationship. They soon meet Robert (Christopher Walken), the enigmatic owner of a picturesque watering hole. He entertains them with copious vino and colorful stories of a childhood spent with a brutal, domineering father. Later, drunk and lost in the maze-like city, the couple once again encounter Robert, who puts them up at his gorgeous villa. They also meet his wife, Caroline (Helen Mirren), who suffers from crippling back pain and obvious emotional instability. Fascinated by the glamorous older couple but disturbed by their dysfunctions, Colin and Mary find themselves slowly drawn into sexual and emotional games that culminate in sudden violence. Directed by Paul Schrader, The Comfort of Strangers was adapted by playwright Harold Pinter from the novel by Ian McEwan. Richardson previously starred in Patty Hearst, Schrader's portrait of the newspaper heiress-turned-terrorist.

i have seen it but i don't remember much about it, it wasn't the best. the movie was plain bore and wasn't going anywhere.
stevenecarrier
Super Reviewer
½ April 14, 2011
"The Comfort of Strangers" is hardly groundbreaking. In fact most of the film is so insignificant that without the intriguing ending the film would have simply floated away. Thankfully the acting is top notch (Natasha Richardson, Rupert Everett, Christopher Walken and Helen Mirren) are all well suited to the material. They are skilled actors who do well with Harold Pinter's dialogue. In fact, "The Comfort of Strangers" would make a good companion piece to Pinter's older screenplay "The Servant." This picture is rather easy to read, simply put it's about the death of beauty but it's competently made and has an interesting ending making it worth at least one viewing.
December 10, 2010
A dark and disturbing erotic thriller, "The Comfort of Strangers" is a film that manages to be unsettling yet enticing, keeping you guessing until the end (and a little while after). Despite the presence of some confusing plot points that are never really explained, it remains ultimately satisfying. Part of this comes from the strong cast. Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson portray a young, attractive, and innocent couple who expect nothing more than a romantic holiday to await them in Venice. What they discover is a suave aristocrat played by Christopher Walken who makes little effort to hide his dark past and disturbing personality. No more comforting is Helen Mirren as his submissive wife, whose fascination with the visitors treads the border of obsession. Nevertheless the young lovers are charmed, and become gradually entangled in the increasingly disturbing lives of their new "friends". In addition to the solid cast, "Comfort..." boasts a seductive mood, created by beautiful images of the Venetian architecture and waterways, and a fantastic score, blending orchestral arrangements with Mediterranean music. The film is not without its faults, and it requires a second viewing to truly understand its plot. But if you can look past the occasional holes in the storyline, "The Comfort of Strangers" stands out as a fascinating drama that reminds us to be careful about how we choose our friends.
July 4, 2010
Excellent plot - great acting - scary and mesmerizing.
May 27, 2010
I love the effect this movie had on me. First I hated it, found it silly and I even laughed at my all time favorite actor, Christopher Walken. But it grew on me, I found myself reaching for this movie and watching it again and really liking it. Today it is one of my faves.
½ May 6, 2010
we tend to compare a film with its original book version and comment on how the adaptation has fell short. but sometimes it's not such a good idea when the movie looked 'exactly like the novel', either.
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