Customer Reviews


41 Reviews
5 star:
 (10)
4 star:
 (14)
3 star:
 (10)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Edgy, daring, unconventional
Near the beginning of this imaginative film when Paula Murphy (20-year-old Julia Stiles) and Julie Styron (Stockard Channing) meet in earnest, Paula tells Julie what she really does in life: "I'm a writer," she says. I write short stories about things that I experience. Nonfiction. "Fiction is too stupid, too neat. I like the sloppiness of real...
Published on September 23, 2003 by Dennis Littrell

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stockard rules
Stockard Channing gives a dead-on performance in the intense psychological drama "The Business of Strangers." Co-starring Julia (Save The Last Dance) Stiles, the two hum in tune on screen and make a powerful pair. Stockard Channing plays Julie, a middle aged business executive attending and important meeting in a non-descript town. Julia Stiles is her assistant, Paula,...
Published on December 15, 2001


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Edgy, daring, unconventional, September 23, 2003
Near the beginning of this imaginative film when Paula Murphy (20-year-old Julia Stiles) and Julie Styron (Stockard Channing) meet in earnest, Paula tells Julie what she really does in life: "I'm a writer," she says. I write short stories about things that I experience. Nonfiction. "Fiction is too stupid, too neat. I like the sloppiness of real life." What we don't know at the time is that Paula is about to improvise just such a tale involving Julie, a tale that challenges the middle-aged executive's lifestyle and her assumptions about herself and inspires her to do things she wouldn't normally do.
This is the "business of strangers." And this is the story within the story. Paula is the diabolical kind of person who is dedicated to introducing people to themselves so that she can watch them twist, a privileged, under-achieving Ivy League girl with machinations. Julie is a community college workaholic who never had time for a family, or love, or self-discovery, a lonely woman whose life is a parade of sterile hotel rooms, anonymous strangers, alcohol and pills. Although the story drags in a little in spots, the overall effect is edgy and fascinating, and the contrast between the principals keeps us wondering who is going to come out on top.
The action really begins when Julie, in an expansive mood with some booze and her promotion to CEO, shows some interest in the girl she just fired for being late to a presentation. It's not clear what sort of interest that is. Julie responds as a spider coaxing a fly into the web, but it's not clear what she's up to. They go to the pool and play around, get on the treadmills at the gym and run. They go back to Julie's suite and drink some more.
At this point I'm afraid that the film will deteriorate into a politically correct cliché of some kind, or a lesbian wish-fulfillment debacle, without anything really happening. Enter (or actually re-enter) Nick Harris (Fred Weller) who, Paula has confided to Julie, raped her best friend when they were undergraduates in Boston. This excites Julie's loathing and so the two women play out an improvised and drunken revenge scenario that is a bit over the top, but psychologically correct.
After some intense emotional interaction, the film resolves surprisingly and rather neatly, allowing us to see that Paula has indeed spun out a tale whose moral might be, "watch out for young foxes." The scene in the airport emphasizes this, with Julie and Nick sheepishly sorting out last night's bizarre debauchery while trying to maintain their dignity, with Paula poised brazenly in plain sight wearing earphones, a smug silhouette in the distance.
Patrick Stettner wrote the script, which, judging from the series of stationary settings and the limited cast, I suspect was originally a stage play. He also directed in a business-like manner, getting a saucy and smirk-laden performance from Stiles, whose originality and talent is obvious, and a steady and believable one from veteran Channing. Incidentally, Channing is a Harvard graduate who is perhaps best known for her performance as Betty Rizzo in Grease (1978) playing a teenager when she was 32-years-old! Here she braves some close camera work that starkly reveals the 57-year-old actress beneath the makeup. Yet, as always, Stockard Channing pleases us.
But see this for Julia Stiles, a thoroughly professional player, whose arrogant, sneering, and edgy style add spice to, and partially disguise, her youthful mastery of the fine art of acting.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A business trip to self discovery, January 3, 2002
THE BUSINESS OF STRANGERS is one of those oddball, little films that will never make it to wide release, but should resonate with meaning for a particular niche of viewers, in this case veteran road warriors, especially those dedicating their whole lives to The Job with the hope of getting the ultimate corner office and the gold-plated executive washroom key that says 'Lead Dog'.
I haven't seen Stockard Channing in ages. Here, she and the young actress Julia Stiles appear respectively as Julie and Paula, road warriors for a major software firm, spending the night away from home, getting drunk and into mischief. The Board has just given Julie the Ultimate Promotion. Paula has just had her firing rescinded. (Earlier in the day, Julie's presentation to the Big Customer was botched because Paula, the A/V specialist required for the heavy lifting, showed up late, a victim of airline perversity. In a fit of pique, Julie sacked her. Now, marooned in a hotel together, they're almost pals.) At this point, a headhunter of Styron's acquaintance, Nick (Frederick Weller) appears, another victim of flight schedules gone awry. Paula claims to recognize him as the man that raped a friend of hers some years previous when all were together in college. Julie is shocked enough to tentatively condone Paula's ominous idea that they do something to punish Nick. What they proceed to do during the night to the unsuspecting fellow is the core of the script.
Julie has sacrificed a 'normal' existence on the altar of Her Career with the hope of getting ahead. Her best friend is her secretary. One supposes that she doesn't even have a Pet Rock. On the other hand, Paula is into living for the moment, and is openly contemptuous of Julie's life choices. (Stiles is especially good at role playing a cheeky bad attitude.) During the ladies' interaction with Nick in the wee hours - "interaction" only loosely describing what occurs - the audience gets a glimpse of Julie's repressed emotions, as when she lashes out with an ink marker.
From several years of experience, I can say that one of the things this film does nicely is depict the 'glamorous' existence of the business traveler: the missed plane flights, the sterile hotel rooms, the failed sales presentations, the austere airport waiting areas, and the constant need to stay in touch with the home office. It's no wonder, then, that Julie perhaps questions if her climb up the corporate ladder was worth it.
THE BUSINESS OF STRANGERS is an unusual suspense thriller. It's also a lesson in bartering away your life for something, and then thinking maybe, just maybe, you've been scammed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stockard rules, December 15, 2001
By A Customer
Stockard Channing gives a dead-on performance in the intense psychological drama "The Business of Strangers." Co-starring Julia (Save The Last Dance) Stiles, the two hum in tune on screen and make a powerful pair. Stockard Channing plays Julie, a middle aged business executive attending and important meeting in a non-descript town. Julia Stiles is her assistant, Paula, who has the misfortune of showing up forty five minutes late for the critical meeting, enraging the executive. She appears as the meeting is ending and is promptly told she is fired. Both head to the airport where weather has delayed all flights and the two meet again at an airport hotel. In the interim, Stockard's harried executive has learned she is to be appointed CEO, as opposed to being fired as she had suspected and her mood shifts from nerve wracking worry to celebration. Stockard's Julie apologizes to the young assistant and unfires her. Stuck in the drab airport hotel they head off to the health club and later the airport bar. The drab executive and the wild side type Xer have share a few laughs and bond. We are clued in to things not being quite so bright as we see the young Paula snoop through the bosses' things while in her bathroom and palm a tissue full of her various prescriptions. Also, while using the health club Paula's various body art tattoos are exposed for thecamera indicating a darker side. (Earth to screenwriter: Almost all of GenX has at least one tattoo.) Later that night they meet up with a slimy executive search consultant. His slicked back hair and swarthy mannerisms telegraph his nature . The executive had met with him earlier as she prepared for her possible firing and the young assistant seems agitated at his presence, revealing to Stockard's character when they are alone that she knows him and that he raped a friend of hers in college several years ago.
Stockard is properly outraged and suggests something out to be done. The tale turns dark as the consultant is drugged and the opportunity for revenge is presented.
The film explores the balance of power, or lack of, women face in corporate America. Stockard's character is revealed to havelittle in the way of a life outside of her career and has devoted her life to the pursuit of career achievement. Julia Stiles character represents the rage she has felt and through whom she has the chance to express it. The slimy search executive the target of the rage.
The film works best when Stockard is on screen and is a testament to her strong presence. Julia Stiles shines as the psychologically disturbed assistant. The sequence where they have the powerless man and toy with revenge possibilities is nerve wracking and seat squirmingly uncomfortable. It is rare in American motion pictures to feature a male character who is rendered totally powerless. The film is raw in production values which serves to enhance a cinema verte, think Cops, like experience.
What left me wondering is how could Stockard's seasoned, bright executive fall for the rather obvious mind games that Stile's Paula is playing? She gives her plenty of clues and fails a classic test: If it defies common sense, the character would have to be an idiot to do it. Once the man is drugged, Stockard continues to play along which defies the very nature of her character. (The Deep End also suffered from this phenomenon.)
If you are looking for a drama about characters, not car chases or space aliens, and two magnificent performances then this film delivers.
(...)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harsh Biting review of Women in Business, February 12, 2002
By 
L. J Nary (Indio, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The movie is a portrait of two women who embrace their masculinity in order to make it in a man's world, business. At least that is how I see the movie. The two women meet, when Stockard Channing's character has the one up position over Julia Stiles's character. As the movie progresses, the two women try to achieve a balance of power between each other but their inability to trust gets in the way. It is a sad movie in that the women can't really seem to bond as you wish they could. Stiles's character keeps pushing the enevelope seeing how far she can go with Channing. Channing bites the hook for awhile and releases some powerful anger on another male character, who in my eyes seems purely an innocent bystander to these two women's agendas. The ending is strange and thought provoking. This masculine world in which these two women occupy, is it worth it? What about Stiles character, we see the picture she took of herself, doesn't it look lost and alone? Didn't Stiles say she didn't have any friends? Didn't Stiles character act oddly when she was making out with that guy from the bar? It makes you wonder if men have played the upper hand with her as of course they had with Channing's character. In business, you have to take alot of s@@@ from men. I know I've been there, no offense to all the men who read this. To me this movie shows lonliness, isolation, remember the scene of Channing talking to her therapist on the phone. No time to actually be face to face. How sad! The movie shows metal,technology and bright glaring light as a symbol for this artificial happiness and aloneness. The women can't really be friends because of their life choices. Stiles leaves Channing with a memento of their night together and it seems touching in a way, at least to Channing, she doesn't seem offended. To those planning to see the movie, it has some intense scenes, the violence is not bloody but it is violence none the less. Those who like a happy upbeat film, this is definately not for you. It is dark and sadly touching. I got alot from the film. I am still thinking about it, I feel sad for the loss of feminism that takes place in the cold hard heart of business in the city. Time to watch some Ally McBeal.
Lisa Nary
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Femmes Faddle, December 18, 2006
By 
This review is from: The Business of Strangers (DVD)
SPOILERS AHOY!

Disregard the glowing review blurbs.

Despite some good (if misdirected) acting from Stockard Channing, this unbelievable, mean-spirited and coincident-driven mess about a career barracuda (Channing) who joins forces with a young assistant (Julia Stiles) to kidnap and sexually torment an oily young businessman they both have a grudge against is a third-rate sisterhood-bonding mess that looks like a justly forgotten Off Off Broadway play, sorta a fem-lib Mamet opus.

Begins intriguingly but Stiles' character inexplicably degenerates from a hard-working young woman into a junior-grade Fatal Attraction-type psycho who inexplicably draws Channing into her sick plot. Suffice to say that despite dubious nature of their victim's "crime" (turns out he may or may not have been involved in a long ago sexual assault), Channing's character's participation in this near-murder causes her to take this young sociopath under her wing, prompting her to re-examine her whole shallow power-suited lifestyle. Yawn.

Channing was far more believable playing 30-year-old high school senior in Grease. Here, she's just a mid Fifty-something mired in Gunk.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An offbeat character drama, September 22, 2002
Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles star in this offbeat, claustrophobic drama about two women who meet on a rather dismal business trip, then form an unlikely but strangely intense bond while stranded at an airport hotel. Each manipulates the other, and their encounter ends on an uneven and bitter note. This film has an interesting script and unusual pacing, and both actresses give fine performances. Stiles, who previously starred in the underrated teen dance drama "Save The Last Dance," is a real talent, someone to keep an eye on.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Drama, December 13, 2001
By A Customer
Stockard Channing gives a dead-on performance in the intense psychological drama "The Business of Strangers." Co-starring Julia (Save The Last Dance) Stiles, the two hum in tune on screen and make a powerful pair. Stockard Channing plays Julie, a middle aged business executive attending and important meeting in a non-descript town. Julia Stiles is her assistant, Paula, who has the misfortune of showing up forty five minutes late for the critical meeting, enraging the executive. She appears as the meeting is ending and is promptly told she is fired. Both head to the airport where weather has delayed all flights and the two meet again at an airport hotel. In the interim, Stockard's harried executive has learned she is to be appointed CEO, as opposed to being fired as she had suspected and her mood shifts from nerve wracking worry to celebration. Stockard's Julie apologizes to the young assistant and unfires her. Stuck in the drab airport hotel they head off to the health club and later the airport bar. The drab executive and the wild side type Xer have share a few laughs and bond. We are clued in to things not being quite so bright as we see the young Paula snoop through the bosses' things while in her bathroom and palm a tissue full of her various prescriptions. Also, while using the health club Paula's various body art tattoos are exposed for thecamera indicating a darker side. (Earth to screenwriter: Almost all of GenX has at least one tattoo.) Later that night they meet up with a slimy executive search consultant. His slicked back hair and swarthy mannerisms telegraph his nature . The executive had met with him earlier as she prepared for her possible firing and the young assistant seems agitated at his presence, revealing to Stockard's character when they are alone that she knows him and that he raped a friend of hers in college several years ago.
Stockard is properly outraged and suggests something out to be done. The tale turns dark as the consultant is drugged and the opportunity for revenge is presented.
The film explores the balance of power, or lack of, women face in corporate America. Stockard's character is revealed to havelittle in the way of a life outside of her career and has devoted her life to the pursuit of career achievement. Julia Stiles character represents the rage she has felt and through whom she has the chance to express it. The slimy search executive the target of the rage.
The film works best when Stockard is on screen and is a testament to her strong presence. Julia Stiles shines as the psychologically disturbed assistant. The sequence where they have the powerless man and toy with revenge possibilities is nerve wracking and seat squirmingly uncomfortable. It is rare in American motion pictures to feature a male character who is rendered totally powerless. The film is raw in production values which serves to enhance a cinema verte, think Cops, like experience.
What left me wondering is how could Stockard's seasoned, bright executive fall for the rather obvious mind games that Stile's Paula is playing? She gives her plenty of clues and fails a classic test: If it defies common sense, the character would have to be an idiot to do it. Once the man is drugged, Stockard continues to play along which defies the very nature of her character. (The Deep End also suffered from this phenomenon.)
If you are looking for a drama about characters, not car chases or space aliens, and two magnificent performances then this film delivers.
Wink Williams (Winkwilliams@yahoo.com)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So different yet so much the same, June 22, 2002
Superb performance by Stockard Channing as Julie, as a hard-boiled yet desperately insecure person whose job has become her entire life. What an expressive face she has and who would ever deny that age can become a woman, just as it is said to do with a man? The spirit and atmosphere of an executive life in airport lounges and hotels is deftly portrayed. Julie meets Paula, a much younger woman with probably a different reason to feel distrust of men and although they come from different backgrounds, they interact well together and have much in common. The scene in the elevator full of men, where the two spontaneously enact a loud, sexually outrageous conversation is very funny. You can see Julie loosening up under the influence of alcohol as they drink together, while Paula becomes more aggressive and later they act out some sexual rage on an unwitting male victim (Fredrick Weller).
While we see a much more complete development of Julie's character, Paula is allowed to remain an enigma, through no fault of Julia Stiles. We get hints of former abuse: her multiple tattoos; her dallying with, and then violent rejection of a young man in the bar; her former lesbian relationship and her victimization of the apparently innocent Weller.
This is a fine character sketch, a piece of early 21st century corporate Americana (judging by her performance at a high level presentation, I would not want Julie representing my company!), with its rather decadent lifestyle and obvious lack of concern for human beings.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So much less than I expected..., March 26, 2003
By 
This review is from: The Business of Strangers (DVD)
I went into this expecting a sort of cerebral/psychological thriller... but my expectations were way too high. This movie has two big "surprise twists" toward the end and both of them are so totally obvious and predictable that I was amazed when they were "revealed" as surprises.. I'd assumed that the writer and director expected these things to be obvious.
Example: "Yeah that guy raped a good friend of mine." [Meaningful look] "A really, really close friend." [Followed by a second meaningful look]
See if you can guess the shocking surprise about the identity of that really, really close friend...
More importantly, I simply didn't buy it. I get that Stockard Channing is supposed to be drunk and she's not thinking straight, but I simply couldn't believe that she would allow herself to get dragged into such a stupid/dangerous situation. Even if she were drunk. This is one of those movies where you just want to slap the main character for being so dumb.
If you're interested in seeing an intelligent movie that hits the same basic themes but does so with subtlety and class, I would STRONGLY recommend "Oleanna" (a two-person theatre piece by David Mamet; the movie version is superb!) or "Tape" (with Uma Thurman). These two movies will provoke thought and will hit you on a gut level. "The Business of Strangers," on the other hand, can't decide if it wants to be a thriller (along the lines of "Fatal Attraction," "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle," "Poison Ivy," etc.) or if it wants to say something about the role of women in today's society.
Both actresses do a good job with what they have, but the script to this thing gives off a foul odor.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar performances, February 23, 2003
This review is from: The Business of Strangers (DVD)
As a character study, this is one of the best, most unpredictable films I've seen in a long time. Stockard Channing has always been a fine actress, bringing a level of sensitivity and intelligence to every role. And Julia Stiles just gets better and better in each new film. She has character and grit; she's a bold young actress who takes professional risks. The two performers are perfectly matched here in a test of wills, with an insightful and devious script that never goes where the viewer anticipates. It's both a commentary on age and wisdom versus youth and nerve, and a study in values.
I saw this movie when it opened, (on a large screen) and the one scene I found jarring was the opening--a long examination of Channing's face that has, like that of so many of her peers, been surgically airbrushed to remove hints of age. But Channings' hands are very much a part of this sequence, and they are the hands of a woman who is almost sixty. It's a distracting (mercifully short) scene and I wish director Stettner had paid closer attention--focusing only on Channing's face. Unless Stettner is as devious as the film itself and wanted us to be aware of the drastic contrast between face and hands--a statement about the lengths some women will go to to remain viable, whatever their careers. Somehow, I doubt that he was that subtle or that clever. But I did have to wonder about that face and those hands.
That aside, this is a consummate food-for-thought film.
Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Business of Strangers
The Business of Strangers by Patrick Stettner (DVD - 2002)
$14.98
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.