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Stephen Poliakoff writes and directs this television drama. Attending a family reunion with his parents, surveyor Daniel finds himself deployed as a go-between for his Aunt Alice and cousins Rebecca and Charles. However, as he becomes more and more deeply involved in this strange new environment, Daniel begins to suspect that his honourable motives are being taken advantage of by his relatives.
Perfect Strangers, Stephen Poliakoff's TV drama, depicts an upper-class English family where distrust, dysfunction and despair are guests at the party. "As you know, in all families, things happen", says the cool Lindsay Duncan. That's the premise: things happen, some of them nasty. The family, once "mini-Rothchilds" and still "drowning in money", are gathered together in an opulent hotel for a grand reunion; the only thing wrong with the idea is that many of them are perfect strangers and the event begins to look more like a conference than an event with heart. Into the blend of well-heeled guests comes the Hillingdon contingent led by Raymond (Michael Gambon), the black ram of the family. His son, Daniel, is a surveyor and true to his profession sets about assessing the fault lines running through the family. Underlying it all is a sense of unease so that even pleasantries come across as deeply unpleasant. Raymond warns us that: "Everybody always lies".
Drama arises from the emergence of truth and buried bits of the past, as old photographs are screened to family members provoking curiosity about what lies behind the images. Scratch a surface and everywhere there's pain and mystery. Filmed in lavish London settings where everything is clean and sleek, Perfect Strangers makes for slick visual entertainment. Although the dialogue is stilted and at times surreal, the music by Adrian Johnston cannot be faulted. --Joan ByrneSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
Very good acting by all the main characters . Thought the production a bit of a muddle which did not help the tale that was being told.
As with all Poliakoff dramas, the pace of the story-telling, the length of scene, the camera work, are all designed to slow the tale down, to make the viewer ease into the story and the characters, to extend and challenge their 21st century attention span.
The casting is superlative, and every actor turns in flawless performance: Matthew MacFadyen's combination of youthful arrogance with a pervasive uncertainty and inferiority around his family; Lindsay Duncan's graceful noblesse which hides a painful story; Michael Gambon's irritable yet troubled father. Each character is a finely worked, intricate creation.
Another Poliakoff trait used here (and seen even more strongly in Shooting the Past) is the use of historical documents, particularly photographs, to flesh out characters' stories. He uses the images, breathing life into them through flashbacks, to draw meaning from the past, lighting on modernist "moments of being" to create empathy and understanding for his characters.
I could go on with the purple prose as this really is one of the finest examples of TV drama I have ever seen. In short, I couldn't recomend it enough.
"Perfect Strangers" focuses around a family reunion where the protagonist, Daniel, meets relations he never knew existed. During this event he becomes infatuated with one of his cousins, Rebecca, and uncovers an intriguing family history.
The tales which are revealed to Daniel are what makes this piece so memorable. This story deals with loss, discovery and understanding. The piece also has the interesting concept of using pictures to reveal the past. Questions are raised about photos the characters see, such as when, where and why they were taken. More importantly, can you look deeper into a photo to discover it's true meaning and the tale behind it? "Perfect Strangers" makes you want to learn more about your own family and analyse your photo collection!
"Perfect Strangers" successfully conveys the mixture of personalities that you can find within one family. The cast are outstanding. Matthew Macfadyen is captivating as the gentle Daniel and Michael Gambon's performance as his father is wonderful. The pair work well together and you really get a sense of the father/son relationship. Michael Gambon's dinner speech scene is particularly effective, as it emphasises how you can feel love and embarassment towards a relation simultaneously.
This story has a satisfying conclusion too. You don't feel that there is anything unresolved at the end and all the characters appear stronger by the experiences they have had.
"Perfect Strangers" is a truly amazing piece which shouldn't be missed. Perhaps what makes it so powerful is the idea that so many emotions and tales can be captured with the click of a camera. Have you captured yours yet?
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Most recent customer reviews
Not exactly the fastest moving story but quietly gripped me nevertheless.