When her friendâ€™s affair with married ad exec Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis) ends in the womanâ€™s murder, investigative reporter Rowena Price (Academy AwardÂ® winner Halle Berry; Best Actress, Monsterâ€™s Ball, 2001) vows to bring the killer to justice. Suspecting Hill of the crime, she goes undercover by posing as two highly alluring women: Katherine, a sexy temp who works within his agency, and Veronica, a seductive temptress he chats up online. Engaging in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, both Rowena and Hill begin to realize things may not be what they seem. For some people will go to great lengths to protect their secrets, even if it means risking everything.
Perfect Stranger is saved from conventional starlet-in-distress mediocrity by a certain refreshing unwholesomeness, a tawdry strain that runs all the way through its climactic series of kickers. Halle Berry plays a "gotcha" reporter, currently undercover to nail a famous advertising tycoon (Bruce Willis)--not for a story, but because Berry thinks he might be involved in a friend's murder. The distasteful nature of Berry trying to seduce the married exec adds some spice, and so does her pervy assistant (Giovanni Ribisi), whose voyeuristic tendencies indicate more than customary comic relief--at the least, he's a hefty red herring. There are other red herrings, mostly beginning to smell, in the rather ramshackle script. Director James Foley, who has a talent for hothouse intensity (Glengarry Glen Ross, At Close Range) gives this material more edge than it probably deserves, although he can't make Berry convincing, and she and Ribisi are completely wrong as simpatico best friends. Willis looks good by comparison, turning a one-note role into a subtle act of professionalism. --Robert Horton
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