Perfectos desconocidos (Perfect Strangers)

 

Director: Manolo Carlo

Release Date: Dec. 25, 2018

Starring: Bruno Bichir, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Franky Martín, Miguel Rodarte

Last year brought us some outstanding foreign-language movies: Roma, Shoplifters and Burning. The overlooked Perfect Strangers joins the list. The movie is the ninth version of a film originally released in 2016 in Italy. There have been adaptations in Greek, Turkish and Spanish. Director Manolo Carlo’s take opened Jan. 11 in the United States.

Perfect Strangers is your perfect dinner movie. That’s because it takes place almost entirely at the dinner table, bringing to mind The invitation and Coherence, which share similar settings. As you can imagine, Perfect Strangers is a hard sell for American audiences: It’s in Spanish, there are no action scenes and no guns or drugs. Built on flawless dialogue, Perfect Strangers succeeds on the strength of its characters, each one of them just like someone you know. A group of friends meeting for dinner play a game where they each place their phone on the table and read their texts aloud and put their calls on speaker.  Soon, we see everyone’s secrets.

If you are a film nerd Perfect Strangers is a must-see. It’s thoughtful, modern and relevant socially, showing us that our private lives are always close at hand. If you aren’t a film nerd maybe sit this one out. It’s very easy to allow the subtitles to pull you away from the film. It’s also very easy to get a little bored and focus on other things. Perfect Strangers may not be the perfect movie but it is a fine, fine foreign language film. One of the many great foreign-language films of last year. If you miss this one, you might get another chance. Paolo Genovese, who wrote and directed the original, thinks there will be 15 or 16 remakes.

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