This ought to be a far better film than it is: Harold Pinter's script is elliptically menacing and Angelo Badalamenti's score attractively gloomy. But in the end The Comfort of Strangers presents a rather low-rent vision of decadence: Roberto's praise of Margaret Thatcher and habit of photographing the unwary and beautiful are not quite enough to make the film's shocking climax entirely plausible. The DVD contains no additional features other than the obligatory theatrical trailer. --Roz Kaveney
For me the film didn't work as well as Ian McEwan's novel, Walken is great (one of his best ever performances) and Rupert Everett is very good as a typical middle-class Englishman. However, I wasn't convinced by Natasha Richardson's performance and Helen Mirren's part was so small it seemed a waste of her talents.
This film isn't one for fans of action movies, it's slow-paced throughout but the the tension does build to the denoument. The love scenes between Richardson and Everett are nicely filmed and indeed the whole film looks stunning- I'd have goneout and booked a trip to Venice if it wasn't for the fear of meeting Walken's character.
Based on a stinging novella by Ian McEwan, the film is a study in intense self-absorption, to the point of obsession. Both couples are guilty of this sin in different ways--the younger one hedonistically, and the older one in a decidedly more sinister fashion.
When they intersect the obvious sparks--chemical, sexual, and otherwise--fly thick and fast and this makes for strong, compelling cinema. Paul Schrader, the director, has done a superb job capturing the atmosphere and tone of McEwan's novella. What always intrigues me is the "mixed" casting of actors from different countries in the same film. The presence of Walken, the only American among the otherwise British cast, provides an intense presence made all the more so by his out of whack persona.
This "out-of-whackness" reaches a crescendo at the film's climax which should not be revealed here. This is a strange, dark film that stings as much as the original novella and does so abundantly. McEwan, one of the most intelligent fiction writers around, cleverly sets this macabre story in Venice whose dark labyrinthine passages Schrader takes maximum advantage of, giving the film the creepy atmosphere it needs to make it so resonant.
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