Oh what a tangled web we weave when at first we try to deceive. Never has that saying been more appropriate than in the latest Halle Berry thriller, “Perfect Stranger.” The film is both an homage to Berry’s incredible beauty and also a reminder of her recent rocky public image.
At the onset, Rowena (Berry) lands an interview with a senator. Shortly after that, deeper-seated intentions are revealed: she is an investigative reporter with damaging information that can bring the official down. But before she and her partner, Miles (Giovanni Ribisi) can celebrate, the senator reaches her source, pays him off and forces a frustrated Berry to quit her job.
She isn’t out of work long, though, because she runs into a childhood friend, Grace (Nicki Aycox) who tells Rowena that she has gone Fatal Attraction on a powerful ad exec, Harrison Hill, played by Bruce Willis. Hill has hit it and quit it and Grace is mad as hell about it. She gives Rowena some incriminating e-mails and suddenly our reporter has a new story to investigate.
A week later, Grace turns up dead and Rowena’s suspects that Hill has something to do with it. She has Hill’s e-mail address but needs proof to connect the powerful business man to the murder. But how? She sets a trap to lure the freaky, horny Hill into her seductive web. Rowena secures a job at Hill’s firm, and along with Miles, looks for information that would tie the powerful ad man to Grace’s death.
The script is tailor-made for Berry’s talents, showcasing her beauty in ways not seen since “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.” Rowena is constantly in sexy, alluring outfits, much to the chagrin of Miles who clearly has eyes for her even as she continually ignores him. Willis is charming as the narcissistic ad man who has a gorgeous wife, Mia (the stunning Paula Miranda) but is trying to get with anyone of the opposite sex with two legs. Earlier in the film when Berry begins temping at the ad agency, she and a colleague are discussing Hill’s cheating ways. When Berry remarks that Hill’s wife is gorgeous, the woman replies “you show me a beautiful woman and I’ll show you a man who’s tired of f****** her!
To answer critics in the Black community that say she has forgotten the brothers, Berry’s lover in the film is “CSI”’s Gary Dourdan, who also had a relationship with her deceased friend, Grace. Later in the film Dourdan goes Eric Benet on Berry’s character, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.
Hill has issues of his own, trying to run an agency, steal clients from his friends and step to all of the fine interns in his firm. To keep him honest, he relies on his assistant, Josie (Daniella Van Graas), who runs interference for him. Hill is trying to keep his business practices secret, Rowena is trying to get information that would link him to her friend’s death and Miles is trying to keep secrets of his own.