Such ‘Perfect Strangers’ they all turned out to be, thanks to their mobile phones. This award winning movie was huge in its native territory of Italy – it’s just simply so good as an ensemble piece, even if it rarely strays from one urban apartment. It is from a humanity-savvy director in Paolo Genovese. His putting together of this piece makes him the star of the show.
The premise is a simple and interesting one. I dare you to try it at your next dinner party – on second thoughts, on seeing the results in this, perhaps not. Rocco and Eva have invited Lele and Carlotta, Pepe and Lucilla, as well as Cosimo and Bianca, to an intimate gathering – and what a night it turns out to be. They have a collective brain fade when they (eventually) agree to what the hostess proposes. After all, they are mates, aren’t they? They have no secrets from each other, do they? Therefore what could be the harm in a little game? Everything that is communicated to them in any form on their hand held digital apparatuses must be passed on to the group, preferably by speaker phone. Usually their phones are banned during their gatherings. But nothing to hide? You must be joking.
One guest arrives mysteriously without partner, one has taken her panties off before leaving home and during the course of the evening, a phone swap occurs with disastrous results for both parties. A closet gay reveals him/herself – I’m not giving too much away – and one is uncovered as a serial philanderer. Nobody comes out of the whole tawdry business unscathed as relationships are split asunder. Seemingly, all shred of friendship they had for each other goes out the window. But the director has one more surprise in store to gobsmack the audience. Genovese loves surprises, he is full of them. What starts as a light comedy, played for a laugh or two, by the end has turned very dark.
At the start the quick repartee between the participants, when sub-titles are added to the mix, makes what is initially happening difficult to keep up with – but once underway, the audience is left in little doubt that this isn’t going to end well. Our sophisticates are not wholly whom they appear to be to each other, as well as to the viewer. Be warned – do not take them on face value.
Then there’s the precocious (aren’t they always) teenage daughter of the hosts, out and about on the town while the adults play. For this punter it was one of the highlights of this offering when she places a phone call to her dad seeking his worldly wisdom – as well as giving mum a few unintentional serves, not realising six others are in on the conversation. She has contacted her father to inform him that her evening may end in her having the opportunity to dispense with her virginity – what does he think? Forced to give the advice in public, Rocco (Marco Giallini) duly provides what should be a template for all fathers when daughters of age put that to them. Beautiful stuff.
Taking his cue from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Genovese is of the belief that everyone has three lives: a public one; a private one and a secret one. The director understands that these days our mobiles hold the clues to the last of our mentioned lives. He states, ‘Smart phones have become a fundamental object, perhaps the only one we carry with us – our ‘black box.’ Well the black boxes of these guys certainly had tales to tell. I wonder what might be in those we all possess?
Movie trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqX0-xn8j1g