Tue March 26, 2002
Business of Strangers
These two actresses are superb at being bitchy and seductive to each other as well as their enemies...
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
Don't cross the characters played by Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles in "The Business of Strangers." If you do, you'll think the male revenge film "In the Company of Men" to be a modest complaint about the battle of the sexes. "Business" is a raw polemic about corporate women treated ill by men in and out of the boardroom.
Businesswoman Channing has been made CEO and by chance shares an evening with manipulative temp Stiles. The story blisters with possibilities as the two women square off against each other about career choices and caring. Only with the introduction of a male object of their scorn does the plot devolve from philosophy to common crime.
The magic goes at that point for me -— I was happy until then to be privy to the anger and angst of these women toward corporate ceilings and predatory males. These two actresses are superb at being bitchy and seductive to each other as well as their enemies. A telling moment occurs when Channing offers to buy Stiles a drink: Stiles orders a double of a $20 cognac; Channing’s ordering the same promises a very tough evening with two tough ladies.
"The Business of Strangers" takes Sigourney Weaver and Melanie Griffith from "Working Girl," puts a few drinks in them, and transforms them from Mike Nichols' sparring rivals to cruel partners in crimes against humanity, the other half of humanity to be exact. Writer/director Patrick Stettner said he wanted to show female execs' "personal and psychological trials." He accomplishes his goal.
See this film for its acting and its chilling post-modern treatment of business, women, and strangers.
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time" and vice-chairs The Film Council of Greater Columbus.