Based on an Ian McEwen novel, The Comfort of Strangers is directed by Paul Schrader at his most portentous. A young couple holidaying in Venice are taken up by an older more sophisticated pair. Christopher Walken as the Eurotrashy Roberto portrays with considerable vigour the sort of smooth stranger from whom anyone who has ever seen this sort of movie ought to run a mile, and Helen Mirren as his complaisant wife is hardly less sinister. Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson are believably obtuse as the lovers who fail to understand exactly what they are being sucked... into. This ought to be a far better film than it is: Harold Pinter's script is elliptically menacing and Angelo Badalamenti's score attractively gloomy. But in the end The Comfort of Strangers presents a rather low-rent vision of decadence: Roberto's praise of Margaret Thatcher and habit of photographing the unwary and beautiful are not quite enough to make the film's shocking climax entirely plausible. The DVD contains no additional features other than the obligatory theatrical trailer. --Roz Kaveney [show more]
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Paul Schrader's erotic thriller was adapted by Harold Pinter from the novel by Ian McEwan. A couple (Natasha Richardson and Rupert Everett) take a second honeymoon in Venice in an attempt to re-ignite their faltering relationship. Once there, they fall under the spell of an entrancing aristocrat (Christopher Walken) and his wife (Helen Miren) who combine hospitality with an undercurrent of malevolence.