Memo to Hollywood: no more instant messaging in movies. Aside from the phoney-baloney software layouts that always strike the eye as odd, the message boxes are invariably blown up big enough so that Stevie Wonder could read the text, and the chatters still feel compelled to verbalize their every keystroke for the benefit of the audience. It all comes off as incredibly fake, which actually makes it a good thematic match forPerfect Stranger, where everything comes off as fake. This is one of those mechanically-minded thrillers that sacrifices logic, character and common sense in order to lay 90 minutes of groundwork for a last-minute twist. I'm perfectly willing to admit that I didn't guess the ending, but I think it's fair to say the movie cheats to get there. I don't think it cheats in the classic plot-hole sense so much as it cheats in the psychological sense. To say more would give too much away, but let me say this -- people suffering under profound emotional stress can't possibly 'conceal' it to the extent that occurs here.
Perfect Stranger, a James Foley film, follows the character of Rowena, an urban newspaper reporter played by Halle Berry whose journalistic calling card is apparently forging false identities. When we first meet her, she's posing as (I think) a public relations expert in order to dupe a crooked congressman into confessing to an illicit affair. Later on in the film, she'll take on the identity of an office temp in order to get close to a suspect in the murder case the film revolves around. Is that what they're teaching in journalism school these days -- how to cook up phoney resumes in order to get a scoop that no newspaper in the country would publish after the reporter explained to the editor how the information was dubiously obtained? Yeah, I know -- shut up, Ryan. Anyway, the kickstand on the plot goes up when Rowena's childhood friend, Grace, shows up in town, drops some hints that she's in trouble with powerful people and then quickly turns up murdered. Needless to say, Grace sets out to find the killer of her friend.