Starring: Belén Rueda, Eduard Fernández, Juana Acosta
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Running Time: 100 mins
Perfect Strangers (Perfectos desconocidos) is a Spanish film about a group of seven friends who get together for a dinner party, and decide to play a game. Placing each of their phones on the table, they agree to share the content of every message they receive, as they have nothing to hide. However, it soon appears that this is going to be no normal evening.
Much like the Italian original of which it is a remake, this Spanish version of Perfect Strangers is a very entertaining, snappy and dramatic film that moves along at lightning pace, and keeps surprising you with all manner of incredible twists and turns throughout, ranging from the jaw-dropping to the ridiculous.
Now, this film is pretty much a straight remake of its predecessor, in that it follows an almost identical plot with almost identical characters, effectively intended to use a successful story in a different market by translating into a different language. There are differences here and there, but the majority of the film is pretty much the same.
Of course, going down such a similar route means the film loses points for originality, but what it does do very well is effectively replicate the strengths of the original in a way that allows you to enjoy the same story all over again, with the differences helping it to feel like you’re watching it for the first time again.
While many remakes try hard to showcase their individuality and originality from a source film, this movie sticks strong with staying close to the original, and thanks to some very slick and fast-paced directing from Álex de la Iglesia that brilliantly mirrors Paolo Genovese’s style in the Italian film, the movie is just as entertaining to watch right the way through as the original, something that I was really impressed by.
If you want to know a little more about how the story pans out over the course of the film, I suggest you go and read my review of the Perfect Strangers from Italy, as it’s my first-time reaction. With this film, however, it’s interesting to see how some of the tweaks and changes work to improve or downgrade the brilliance that we’ve seen can be achieved with this clearly fantastic premise.
First off, the performances here are just as good (with some even proving better) than the original. Thanks to the excellent characterisation that the story provides, as well as the high drama that snowballs throughout, each of the leads has a lot to work with, and they all do so in fantastic fashion, with Juana Acosta and Eduard Fernández standing out as the best of the bunch, often outdoing their counterparts in the original when it comes to intrigue and spectacle throughout.
What’s more is that this film does feel a little more light-hearted and funny than the original at times. Of course, it needs to stay close to the very snappy yet dramatic brand of humour that made the first film so great, but I found myself laughing a lot more this time round, something that comes about as a result of some of the director and screenwriters’ more outlandish changes to the format.
With that said, while the movie is a little more light-hearted than the original, I did feel that it failed to provide the same intense intrigue and shock value of the first. Of course, watching the same story again means that there aren’t many surprises, but the way in which this film so blatantly winks at the audience with its dramatic foreshadowing is a little over-the-top, to the point that it takes away from some of the best thrills and drama throughout.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with Perfect Strangers, thanks to its effective use of a great premise that’s been put to good use before. Despite not excelling when it comes to originality, and featuring a couple of poor directing and screenwriting decisions that go against the nature of the plot, it’s a fast-paced, well-acted, entertaining and often even hilarious piece of work that’s an absolute delight to watch, even if you’ve seen the original, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.9.