Perfect Strangers

Perfect Strangers

Perfect Strangers, a successful 2016 Italian film, is receiving a limited release in Australia although it played to regular crowds during Sydney's Italian Film Festival late last year.

Its premise is simple: four couples, of which the men are childhood pals, meet for a dinner party, where they partake in an experimental parlour game. Each person places their mobile phone on the dinner table, and any incoming notifications are openly shared – texts, calls, WhatsApp messages, Facebook updates. As the evening progresses, a few misinterpretations and unhappy coincidences dissolve their comfortable worlds and the partygoers are revealed to one another as the perfect strangers of the title.

The small group is well cast. The hosts, surgeon Rocco (Marco Giallini) and therapist Eva (Kasia Smutniak), are having troubles with their 17-year-old daughter, who is at that age where she is arch nemesis with her mother, although their more worrying fractures are buried deeper. Newly married taxi driver Cosimo (Edoardo Leo) and Bianca (Alba Rohrwacher) have a loving relationship (why are the newlyweds in films always the happy couple?), but with Bianca's ex-boyfriend and Cosimo's flirty colleague in the picture, their happiness is on thin ice.

It's a thoughtful and contained film (no doubt moves to mount it as a play have already been put into motion), but its message is one that will stay with audiences. Do we every truly know our friends or our partners or even ourselves? What do we have on our own mobiles that could reveal our own secrets if they were made public?

These tiny devices control and contain so much of our lives now that to allow access to them would represent an enormous leap of faith and trust. It's something worth thinking about, and couples who attend the film together will certainly have food for thought at their next dinner party.

- Reviewed by Callum Ryan, ACOFB

Perfect Strangers Starring: Giuseppe Battiston, Anna Foglietta, Marco Giallini, Edoardo Leo, Valerio Mastandrea, Alba Rohrwacher and Kasia Smutniak. Directed by Paolo Genovese. Rated M (Coarse language and sexual references). 96 min.

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