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Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Comfort Of Strangers (1990)

An English couple (Natasha Richardson, Rupert Everett) are on vacation in Venice while they attempt to determine the future of their relationship. But when a mysterious stranger (Christopher Walken) in white takes them under his wing and invites them to his home, their fate is sealed and it's not a pretty one. Based on the novel by Ian McEwan (ATONEMENT), you have to wonder between this and DON'T LOOK NOW (1973), why anyone would ever want to visit Venice! The director Paul Schrader (he wrote TAXI DRIVER) and screenwriter Harold Pinter (THE SERVANT) are a perfect match for material like this. Unsettling and disturbing, you know something awful will happen but that dreaded anticipation is part of what keeps you compelled. The cinematographer Dante Spinotti (L.A. CONFIDENTIAL) turns Venice into a sinister nightmare of a city, even in the daylight. Walken is one of those actors who doesn't have to do much but just stare at you to creep you out and Helen Mirren as his masochistic wife also brings a macabre sheen to her performance. Angelo Badalamenti did the appropriately somber score.

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