Original Title: Perfectos Desconocidos
All goes fine and merry on a friends’ gathering for dinner, until these longtime dearests whimsically agree to play a stupid game during the course of the meet – the phones will be put on table and every message or call received on one’s phone will be shared, by respectively reading the text out loud and putting the phone call on speaker for everyone to hear. After all, who has any secret to hide from their friend or partner?
What is unknown initially to these souls is that everyone sitting across the table has a story to hide, shocking enough to instantly devastate his relations with others around. Though the initial unraveling is mild and fun, what comes after does amusingly convey the idea of how not all adventurous premises are worth diving into – sending a message of how cellphones have drawn geographically close people emotionally apart, and the other way round too!
When the setting of a movie is a mere room, it tends to lose one’s attention with its apparent stagnancy of narrative. The celebrated ‘12 Angry Men’ (1957) stands tall at the top breaking this perception. Going the unpopular path, ‘Perfect Strangers’ too gets better with each surprise, and tends to play mind games right till the end, giving one no moment to blink his eye. At a juncture, the movie becomes like a scoreboard table of prediction. I midway paused the playback just to pat my back, for I had predicted few secrets right that I always found obvious and foreseeable.
Holding almost even screen time, everyone in this ensemble cast does fit the bill much seamlessly. Talking of just their initial impressions, the eldest couple here: a cheeky therapist Eva (Belen Rueda) and her easy-going plastic surgeon husband Alfonso (Eduard Fernandez) are hosting a dinner for their friends – a constantly quarreling couple of mysterious Antonio (Ernesto Alterio) and his apparently naive wife Ana (Juana Costa); a ‘mad in love’ (also youngest of the lot) couple of wildly expressive taxi-driver Eduardo (Eduardo Noriega) and his love Blanca (Dafne Fernandez), where Blanca is a new addition to this dinner “group” (both in real and on WhatsApp). Further joining the gathering is their old friend Pepe (Pepon Nieto) whose wife Lucia couldn’t accompany him to the dinner.
The constant rollercoaster of intriguing revelations in ‘Perfect Strangers’ is well supported by the comic punches, perpetually infused into the writing. I found the climax rather underwhelming for the entire build-up, where director Álex de la Iglesia conveniently gets away by conveying his final giveaway thought in not the best way. Dazed is the word, as I was all set to buy the expected ending anyway, with open arms. Quite religiously copying the original Italian release of 2016, this Spanish remake (2017) too successfully manages to draw a fine notable line amongst the public, personal, and private lives of people, while simultaneously blurring the line between the real and virtual lives of netizens.
The simple yet intriguing premise about really knowing the secrets of your loved one is backed in ‘Perfect Strangers’ by a clever writing, crisp editing, tight screenplay, lousy climax, and remarkable performances by the ensemble cast – which accounts for this dining drama getting its ‘Guess their secrets..’ game strong, enough to hook the audience for around 97 minutes of its runtime.
Link to Movie’s IMDb: Perfect Strangers (2017) – IMDb
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