The Business Of Strangers

Overview

Two women on different ends of the spectrum of corporate power come together with explosive results in this drama. Julie Styron (Stockard Channing) is a successful executive with a major international corporation who is starting to feel the pressure of her position; she has few friends and no family to buffer her from the responsibilities of her work, and she suspects that the company's CEO is thinking about replacing her. Trying to get one step ahead, she meets with the slightly manipulative headhunter Nick ...
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Overview

Two women on different ends of the spectrum of corporate power come together with explosive results in this drama. Julie Styron (Stockard Channing) is a successful executive with a major international corporation who is starting to feel the pressure of her position; she has few friends and no family to buffer her from the responsibilities of her work, and she suspects that the company's CEO is thinking about replacing her. Trying to get one step ahead, she meets with the slightly manipulative headhunter Nick Harris (Frederick Weller). Julie's anxieties come to a head when she has to give a major out-of-town presentation without the help of her assistant Paula Murphy (Julia Stiles), who failed to show up on time. Furious, Julie gives Paula a severe dressing down before firing her, but then Julie is called into a meeting with Nick in which she gets some unexpected news -- she's going to be taking over his job. Eager to celebrate, Julie runs into Paula, and tries to apologize for their earlier encounter by offering her a hotel room for the night and a few drinks. In time, Nick also turns up at the hotel and the women - upon running into him - realize that he is a mutual acquaintance. Later, Paula shares a secret with Julie -- Nick raped one of her friends while they were in college, and since then Paula has pondered taking revenge against him. Julie is eventually drawn into Paula's plan when they encounter Nick later that evening. But there may be more to Paula than meets the eye. The Business of Strangers was the first feature from writer and director Patrick Stettner; the film was shown in competition at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
First-time writer-director Patrick Stettner’s psychological drama addresses such hot-button topics as date rape and the sacrifices women make to scale the corporate ladder with surprising savvy and assurance for a newcomer. One of the hot tickets at Sundance 2001, The Business of Strangers stars Stockard Channing as Julia, an archetypal middle-aged, hard-driving female executive who passed on marriage and motherhood to pursue her career. Although she’s just been made CEO of her company, Julia is plagued by insecurity and doubt: She pops antidepressants and Valium and wonders if there is anything more to her life than her job. All this makes her the perfect target for Paula Julia Stiles, a cocky, tattooed young assistant she fires, then ends up hanging out all night with when they are both stranded at the same airport. The bisexual Paula, alternately seductive and sadistic, plays major head games with the older woman, honing in on her vulnerabilities with uncanny precision as she goads Julia into helping her take violent revenge on the smarmy headhunter Frederick Weller she claims date-raped her college friend. In the slick, antiseptic settings of an airport and a hotel, the repressed Julia falls under Paula's provocative spell and gets in touch with the darker aspects of her own nature. Both Stiles and Channing have a field day with Stettner's sharp, sexually charged dialogue, but it is Channing who carries the picture, proving once again that she is simply one of the best actresses working in movies. Like Neil Labute's controversial drama The Company of Men, The Business of Strangers sometimes creaks under the weight of its plot contrivances. But Channing’s ability to turn what could have been a stereotype into a compelling, multidimensional character makes it a must-see.
All Movie Guide - Jason Clark
Widely dubbed "In the Company of Women" (in reference to Neil LaBute's ode to the dysfunctional psyche of corporate men), Patrick Stettner's debut feature offers up some interesting queries about the nature of women in such positions. But the filmmaking is less assured than LaBute's acidic, often darkly humorous look at the coldness in men's hearts, and despite the film's intriguing intentions, it doesn't take them anywhere terribly inventive. The film's success coasts on the bright, resourceful performances by Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles as, respectively, the frigidly emotional boss and her haughty protégé, and they make some of the screenplay's more unsuccessful passages seem more believable than they should be. The film is further hampered by an overabundance of obvious metaphoric imagery regarding men and women, none of which leaves much of an impression. Business is not without interest, but the promising source material is never as provocative or insightful as it purports to be.
Rolling Stone - Peter Travers
1/2
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.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert

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.
Los Angeles Times - Kevin Thomas
Crisp and provocative, and no small amount of its pleasure derives from Channing's dazzling performance.

1/2
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/6/2002
  • UPC: 883904130246
  • Original Release: 2001
  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Stockard Channing Julie Styron
Julia Stiles Paula Murphy
Frederick Weller Nick Harris
Mary Testa Receptionist
Jack Hallett Mr. Fostwick
Marcus Giamatti Robert
Buddy Fitzpatrick Waiter
Salem Ludwig Man At Pool
Shelagh Ratner Airport Announcer
Technical Credits
Patrick Stettner Director, Screenwriter
Nicole Arbusto Casting
Keiko Deguchi Editor
Joy Dickson Casting
Dina Goldman Production Designer
Kasia Walicka Maimone Costumes/Costume Designer
Teodoro Maniaci Cinematographer
Scott McGehee Executive Producer
Robert H. Nathan Producer
Tora Peterson Set Decoration/Design
David Siegel Executive Producer
Susan A. Stover Producer
Noah Vivekanand Timan Sound/Sound Designer
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Utterly stupid

    I found this move slow and when I DID finally reach the end, it wasn't worth the wait. The ONLY reason it got 2 stars instead of 1 is because of Julia Stiles. She is an awesome actress.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Disturbing and Unpleasant - A Welcome Change

    Amidst a slew of conventional films unleashed upon the general public lately, ''The Business of Strangers'' boldly stands out as disturbing and unpleasant. A welcome change to cookie-cutter endings and bland acting, this unique character study follows two women (Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles) and their brief night's stay at a hotel. The film boasts hardly any scenes before or after either character's stay, which explains its brevity. At a trim 84 minutes, the story is not bogged down by the women's history or future - just the immediacy of the women's, shall we say...situation. At first, a seemingly pointless girl-power trip becomes a bold and diverse journey into the mind of two power-hungry but sensitive females. To reveal any more plot detail would be spoiling the viewer's experience - just know that ''The Business of Strangers'' is not what's expected. It's a thought out film with an intricately woven story - a rarity these days.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews