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The Business of Strangers

3.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Oscar® nominee* Stockard Channing ("The West Wing") gives "the finest performance of hercareer" and Julia Stiles (Save the Last Dance) "is arrestingly and provocatively ambiguous" (The San Francisco Examiner) in a film critics are calling "riveting" (The Detroit News), "spring-taut" (Chicago Tribune) and "a pleasure to watch" (The Washington Post)! Two women on different rungs of the same corporate ladder meet on a business trip and swap stories over drinks. And after Paula (Stiles) intimates to Julie (Channing) that she'd been accosted by a mutual acquaintance, Nick (Frederick Weller), she enlists Julie's help in a revenge scheme against him. But as their plotting turns from cruel to criminal, Julie begins to wonder if she knows thewhole story behind Paula's malice or if Nick is even her true target. *1993: Actress, Six Degrees of Separation

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Stockard Channing, Julia Stiles, Frederick Weller, Mary Testa, Jack Hallett
  • Directors: Patrick Stettner
  • Writers: Patrick Stettner
  • Producers: David Siegel, Derrick Tseng, Ramsey Fong, Robert H. Nathan, Scott McGehee
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: August 6, 2002
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006D2PY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,019 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Business of Strangers" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 23, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
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.
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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.
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By A Customer on December 15, 2001
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 .Read more ›
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