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Vol. LXI, No. 16
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

NOW I'VE GOT HIM WHERE I WANT HIM: Rowena (Halle Berry, right), by using her womanly charms, hopes to get her boss, Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis), to drop his guard and reveal some important and incriminating information about the murder of her best friend.

Perfect Stranger: Undercover Reporter Solves a Murder Case in Yawner

Kam Williams

Until she quit her job, Rowena Price (Halle Berry) was an investigative journalist at the New York Courier. However, she left the daily newspaper to preserve her integrity after her boss (Richard Portnow) killed a shocking story she was about to break about Senator Sachs (Gordon MacDonald), a "family values" Republican she'd caught in a compromising position with a male intern.

Rowena's retirement to her apartment in Greenwich Village is short-lived, after she's summoned to the morgue to help identify the body of a murder victim. When Rowena rushes from the viewing room to regurgitate, we know that the corpse is that of Grace Clayton (Nicki Aycox), her best friend since childhood.

The two grew up as next-door neighbors and had remained close until recently, when their relationship become strained after Grace became intimate with Rowena's boyfriend, Cameron (Gary Dourdan). Posthumously, their bond proves stronger than their shared beau, and Rowena decides to investigate the murder.

She enlists the assistance of Miles (Giovanni Ribisi), a computer whiz who has a secret crush on her. The two quickly learn that Grace was having an affair with Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis), a married advertising tycoon with a jealous spouse, Mia (Paula Miranda). Because of her husbands's history of infidelity, Mia picked Harrison's assistant, Josie (Daniella Van Graas), to report his peccadilloes at the office to her.

Certain that the solution to the murder mystery is hidden somewhere inside the Hill empire, Rowena assumes an alias and gets a temporary job at the ad agency. Her plan is to trick Hill into making an incriminating admission by sending him flirtatious instant messages from the other side of the office.

Unfortunately. the rest of Perfect Stranger doesn't measure up to this promising premise, and the picture soon falls apart. The screen chemistry between Halle Berry and Bruce Willis, and their star power, cannot save this movie because the script is so convoluted that the audience has difficulty following the plot.

The overplotted film introduces too many characters, especially since every one of them might be a suspect. With such an abundance of obvious red herrings, the twists and turns actually could have been funny if the picture been presented as a tongue-in-cheek homage to bad detective movies of a bygone era.

However, this whodunit plays it straight, and ends up indistinguishable from any of those formulaic made-for-TV crime dramas you'd channel-surf past without a second thought. Since it would be unfair to share the jaw-dropping resolution of this rabbit-out-of-the-hat head scratcher of a plot, be forewarned that the film offers next to no hints about the solution to the mystery until it is hastily divulged during the denouement.

Not a Perfect Stranger but a "perfect stinker."

Poor (0 stars). Rated R for profanity, nudity, sexuality, and disturbing violent images. Running time: 109 minutes. Studio: Revolution Studios.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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