The Business of Strangers


Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30

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Critic Reviews

  1. 90
    A maliciously funny and keenly observant movie -- director-writer Patrick Stettner makes a potent feature debut -- that serves its humor dark and without artificial sweeteners.
  2. 88
    I'm not generally a huge fan of movies with two-or three-person casts -- they tend to resemble filmed plays -- but The Business of Strangers is a knockout.
  3. Portland Oregonian
    Reviewed by: Kim Morgan
    Intriguingly puts two distinct, strong women together as if to pose the question, just what is a strong woman? By the film's end, that question is tough to answer.
  4. Crisp and provocative, and no small amount of its pleasure derives from Channing's dazzling performance.
  5. The dynamic between Channing and Stiles is as compelling as a freeway wreck.
  6. Reviewed by: Rich Cline
    This is a stunning examination of issues of doubt and control, as well as a cracking good little thriller.
  7. With an intensity that few movies have mustered, The Business of Strangers makes you feel the acute loneliness of it all.
  8. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Stettner has a serious subject here -- how the hurts that women suffer at the hands of men can be internalized more deeply than the victims know -- and his film is graced with a stunning performance by Ms. Channing.
  9. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Looking back at the film, I don't buy all this, but no matter; Channing is so stormy, so keen to unleash her resentments, that for an hour or so you do believe in Julie. [17 Dec 2001, p.98]
  10. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    While it could have used a punchier final act that distilled its themes more cogently and conclusively, this intelligently scripted drama about power and its many channels nonetheless delivers thanks to Stettner's stylish visual sense and, most of all, to the smart, commanding performances of leads Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles.
  11. 80
    It's a pleasure to watch these two superb actresses circle and attack, conspire and conflict in the corporate shark tank, and it's just as profound a pleasure to behold a talented new filmmaker who's managed to succeed his first time out.
  12. 75
    It's a good movie, and Channing and Stiles are the right choices for these roles. They zero in on each other like heat-seeking missiles.
  13. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Incorporates a range of genres -- black comedy, thriller, psychological drama -- and emerges more powerful for it.
  14. Stettner approaches this material with a playwright's incisiveness and structural sense. His dialogue is cutting, often surprising.
  15. In The Business of Strangers the right words are hard to come by, but the truth of them -- and the lies -- cut to the quick.
  16. 70
    One is left with an unsettling ambivalence about the night's awful events -- there are no absolute villains here, just as there are no total victims -- and much of the credit is due to the performances.
  17. The film raises many interesting questions about our own responses, but it may finally be too open-ended for its own good.
  18. After an hour of brilliant, bitchy dialogue and deceit, it simply runs out of energy; or possibly the budget ran out.
  19. Plays largely like a performer's showpiece, with all the showboating and not so surprising character twists that entails, but Stettner comes out the other end with a pleasantly modest and satisfying revelation.
  20. None of this detracts, however, from the terrific piss-and-merlot performances of Channing and Stiles, or from the committed participation of Frederick Weller as a Neil LaBute-era businessman caught in the lounge between two she-devils disguised as businesswomen.
  21. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: Michael Sragow
    You know the line about paying to hear a great actor read a phonebook? I'd pay to see Channing just leaf through one.
  22. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Michael Wilmington
    This is a movie that really has little to offer but performances and ideas. For a while, that's enough.
  23. Boston Globe
    Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Isn't much more than ''Baise-Moi'' in business suits as they deconstruct sisterhood with an expense account, but their duets sizzle.
  24. Miami Herald
    Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Even though The Business of Strangers loses its nerve in the third act -- you'll wish Stettner had dared to push things further.
  25. 60
    The Business of Strangers goes too far in dramatizing Julie's primal, Paula-fied surge of female fury, and the script finally mistakes respectful ambiguity for vaporous drift.
  26. Try to imagine "In the Company of Men" with a feminist twist and you'll have the gist of this fervently acted, ultimately unconvincing drama.
  27. Channing's formidably good -- a career woman in extremis -- but the movie, which was written and directed by Patrick Stettner, otherwise unfortunately resembles a product of the Neil LaBute Finishing School.
  28. A claustrophobic psychodrama.
  29. 50
    Stettner must be one of the luckiest and unluckiest debut directors in years, blessed with actors who both take the focus away from his limitations and wind up shining a spotlight on them.
  30. Stettner's vision of both women lacks fullness, relying on stereotypes of feminine strength and vulnerability.

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