The Business of Strangers (2001)

The Disconnected.

So much of life consists of invisible missed opportunities. Usually, they are invisible because what we see appears so competent that it seems only natural that it be as it is.

This is such an opportunity. Our two characters here are presented competently. Everything else in the project is acceptable. It has a sort of “People magazine” edge to it.

But I think the basic material had a much greater potential which was avoided by a conspiracy of media mediocrity. This is a case, I think, where the writing of the writer/director is much much stronger than his direction.

The screenplay is cleverly in two parts. The first establishes Channing’s character as someone living in an exile of sorts — someone who only gets limited information about the real world, about what is happening to her. She energetically fills in the details. Obviously she usually does so correctly because she is a senior executive. Her exile is in an abstract world of airports and hotels, no one place where reality can penetrate. This first part of the story shows us how she can fool herself into a false reality.

The second part of the script repeats this. Again she is encountered with partial information and creates her own world, only this time the weakness is being exploited for the only reason that it can be.

What’s required here is that basic feel of exile, and the great effort one must expend to create one’s own world which they carry with themselves. A lovely opportunity exists here, because that’s what we all do, confabulate our world within the vacuum of our travels based one random messages from others. What’s also required is the dramatic display of how difficult that is. Channing may be a veteran, but she sure misses the boat on this.

What we could have had was the best elements of “The House of Yes,” and “Hurlyburly.” What we get is tepid walkthrough.

Posted in 2003

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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