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The Business Of Strangers

     It's a most confusing day for high-tech executive Julie Styron (Stockard Channing), who, toward the end of a business trip, thinks she's being fired. No, she's being promoted to CEO. Feeling vulnerable with all these ups and downs, Julie somehow befriends at the airport hotel a hostile young woman, Paula (Julia Styles), and finds herself seduced by Paula's nihilist mindset. Paula leads Julie through an evening of increasing misdeeds, including drugging a smirky young man, Nick (Frederick Weller), in Julie's hotel room. The women strip him down, Paula sexually fondles him, and both write nasty things with a magic marker on his flesh. Why Nick? Paula claims she recognizes him from several years earlier in Boston. He's a rapist.

     Well, maybe. There's no reason why Julie instantly believes the dubious Paula's tale, and it's nuts that she acts as a revenger without question. In fact, little is motivated in this unpleasant two-hander written and directed by first-time helmer, Patrick Stettner. The two lead actors are fine, but they are fed nonsense to carry to the big screen what should have been, at best, an off-off-off-Broadway play.

GERALD PEARY
(The Boston Phoenix, December 2001)

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