A couple goes to Venice to work on their relationship, but after they meet
a mysterious man, he begins manipulating them sexually and mentally.
The Comfort of Strangers (1990)
Directed by Paul Schrader
Written by Harold Pinter
Starring Rupert Everett, Natasha Richardson,
Christopher Walken, Helen Mirren
Based on the novel by Ian McEwan
Paul Schrader has been involved with some incredible films whether it be his writing, directing, or both at the same time. Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay which is based on the novel of the same name by Ian McEwan. Schrader’s career has spanned over five decades now and he hasn’t shown any signs of losing his touch. First Reformed is his most recent gem and it really inspired me to check out his work and while I didn’t enjoy The Comfort of Strangers as much as some of his other films, it still has something to offer.
Colin and Mary are a British couple on vacation in Venice. We get the sense that there is some friction between the two of them and that they sought out travel to rejuvenate their passion. One night, they get a bit lost while looking for a restaurant and run into a mysterious man named Robert. They accept an invitation into his house and his strange personal life without knowing that he is a total weirdo. Robert's wife, Caroline is also a strange one that would cause me to run in the opposite direction. Colin and Mary stay just close enough to get ensnared into their games.
All of the performances are pretty solid in The Comfort of Strangers, but Christopher Walken is really going for it as Robert. Helen Mirren is pretty damn gutsy as Caroline, but Walken sort of steals the show. Angelo Badalamenti provided the wonderful score which is probably my favorite aspect of the entire film. I felt like the characters were just stuck in limbo at times and not in a frightening or entertaining way. It relies on sexual anticipation at times but again, not necessarily in frightening or entertaining ways. There’s some weird shit going on, but not enough to make it a truly memorable Schrader film.