‘The Business of Strangers’

Mack Bates
The Leader

Stars: Stockard Channing, Julia Stiles, and Frederick Weller

Plot: Two businesswomen (Channing and Stiles) bond and reveal their inner natures while getting carried away on a revenge attack against an accused rapist (Weller).

Features: Widescreen presentation and the Original Theatrical Trailer.

Final Word: A rich character study fueled by two superb performances, The Business of Strangers turns feminism on its side with a spontaneous battle of wills. Traveling executive Julie (Channing) has just received a lofty promotion, but an airport delay leaves only her hard-edged new assistant Paula (Stiles) to celebrate with. When a corporate recruiter (Frederick Weller) becomes the unwitting victim of their drunken power play, these women forge a competitive bond that veers toward volatile melodrama. But first-time director Patrick Stettner is more interested in how these strong but vulnerable women assess each other, revealing secrets, lies, and emotional wounds as they find an outlet for pent-up aggressions. Channing and Stiles are perfectly matched as savvy combatants, and while the film’s ambiguity may puzzle some viewers, it’s just as likely to provoke fascinating speculation about these memorable characters and their unsettling willingness to engage in a psychological duel. Aesthetically, Strangers didn’t quite work onscreen-its colors were too muddled, but looks like a million bucks thanks to a clean digital transfer. The film never found an audience in theaters, but thanks to word of mouth, almost certainly will now.

Rating: 4 briefs (out of 5)