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Summary

"Perfect Strangers" is an Italian film that explores the secrets hidden in people's smartphones, revealing the double lives they lead.

Abstract

"Perfect Strangers" is an Italian movie that has been remade in numerous languages, earning a Guinness World Record for the most remakes. The film revolves around a group of friends playing a dinner table game that exposes their secrets, leading to unexpected results. The game involves sharing incoming messages or calls with the group, revealing secrets from benign ones to huge secrets that could potentially break a marriage. The movie raises questions about infidelity, both physical and virtual, and the impact of secrets on relationships. The acting, dialogue, and storyline are top-notch, making it a memorable film.

Opinions

  • The movie highlights the impact of secrets on relationships, showing how seemingly happy marriages can be affected by infidelity.
  • The film raises questions about the nature of infidelity, suggesting that having sexual chats online amounts to cheating.
  • The movie exposes the nature of humanity at its worst, revealing the dark secrets people keep hidden.
  • The film explores the struggle of the LGBTQ+ community for acceptance from their friends and society.
  • The movie suggests that two wrongs don't make a right, as both partners in a relationship can be upset with each other for the same actions.
  • The final scene of the movie is impactful and memorable, making the audience question the entire purpose of the game.
  • The movie is a must-watch, with top-notch acting, memorable dialogue, and a realistic storyline that can make viewers question their own relationships and secrets.

FILM — REVIEW & DISCUSSION

The Secrets Held by Our Phones

A 2016 Italian film explores the double lives we lead through our smartphones

Theatrical release poster for ‘Perfect Strangers’, via Medusa Film/Lotus Production

Warning: This article contains spoilers

Perfect Strangers (Italian: Perfetti sconosciuti) is an Italian movie that has been remade in twenty four languages, earning a Guinness World Record for the most remakes of a film. There are slight variations in the plot lines of each movie along with different titles, but the premise remains the same: a group of friends playing a dinner table game that ends with unexpected results.

We are first introduced to Eva (Kasia Smutniak) and her husband, Rocco (Marco Giallini). There is a brief scene in which we witness the strained relationship between Eva and her daughter, who is going out for the night, after Eva finding condoms in her daughter’s backpack. It is the same night that the couple has planned a dinner party for a small group of friends, including Lele (Valerio Mastandrea) and his wife Carlotta (Anna Foglietta), newlyweds Cosimo (Edoardo Leo) and Bianca (Alba Rohrwacher), and Peppe (Giuseppe Battiston).

A still from ‘Perfect Strangers’, via Medusa Film/Lotus Production

The majority of the movie takes place at the dinner table, but before that, we learn about the stories of the guests. Lele and his wife have been married for quite a while and seem uninterested in each other. In an unusual twist early in the story, we see Carlotta taking off her underwear (under her dress) after receiving a text message asking if she would go out without them. It is unclear if she is having an affair, but the texts are definitely inappropriate for a married woman to exchange with another man. Meanwhile, Cosimo and Bianca are polar opposites, being affectionate and playful with each other all the way to the dinner party. Peppe is the last to arrive, and he was supposed to bring his girlfriend to the dinner party, but according to him, she isn’t feeling well.

While they are eating, the conversation turns to the issue of phone passcodes. Some of them think that it is absurd to share them with their partners. When challenged by those who disagree, all of them — whether they mean it or not — claim not to have secrets on their phones. Eva then suggests to play a game. If nobody has secrets, surely there would be no objection to sharing any incoming messages or calls with the group. Her husband, Rocco, thinks that it is a bad idea, as do some others, but ultimately they all agree to play the game.

As expected, each of them has a secret they would rather keep hidden, from benign ones such as strained family relationships and planned cosmetic surgeries to huge secrets that could potentially break a marriage. At some point in the movie, a desperate Lele even asks Peppe to switch phones with him as he expects to receive a nude selfie from a woman every night. This, in turn, leads to a dramatic turn of events when we discover that Peppe is gay. However, everyone else at the dinner party now assumes that Lele has been cheating on his wife with a man. It further crosses into homophobic territory as Cosimo hurls a homophobic slur against Lele. It is no surprise that Peppe has not come out to his friends given the way they react. While I am not a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I can imagine their struggle for acceptance from the people close to them. If you are constantly surrounded by homophobic friends, how would you feel about revealing your sexual orientation to them?

As the night progresses, more and more dark secrets are revealed. We learn about the emotional affair between Carlotta and her online friend, which mirrors Lele’s own virtual affair. This raises the question of whether having sexual chats online amounts to cheating. In my opinion, it is considered an affair even though nothing physical happens. The best way to determine this is to ask yourself if your partner would be upset if they know about your intimate chats with your online friend, which is clearly what happens when Lele finds out. At that point, everyone seems to have forgotten that Lele has also been receiving nude selfies from his online chat partner (as at that time, it was assumed to be Peppe’s). Does Lele then have the right to be upset with Carlotta given that he is doing the exact same thing? The irony lies in both of them being upset with each other, but it is also important to note that two wrongs don’t make a right.

A still from ‘Perfect Strangers’, via Medusa Film/Lotus Production

Another huge secret is revealed when we find out that Cosimo has also been unfaithful, and the worst part is that the woman he is having an affair with is pregnant. It is a real shocker, especially considering how affectionate Cosimo and his new wife are in public. It just goes to show that infidelity can happen even in seemingly happy marriages. How many times have we seen couples who look perfect in real life and on social media, who then end up in a divorce that nobody saw coming?

Finally, the biggest secret of the night is not revealed to the group of friends but rather to us, the viewers. It makes you question the entire purpose of the game. The scene is brief but so impactful that it exposes the nature of humanity at its worst.

Perfect Strangers is the type of movie that will be on your mind for a while. I watched it a few years ago at an Italian film festival in my city, and I can still remember almost every scene in the movie. The acting was top-notch, the dialogue was memorable, and most importantly, the storyline felt incredibly realistic. It gave an eerie feeling that the events could happen to any one of us. One of the best scenes in the movie is the final scene, which was executed perfectly. At first, you might be confused by the ending, but later on, after spending some time thinking about it, it makes perfect sense, as most movies with memorable endings do. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

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