The Business of Strangers

Director: Patrick Stettner
Screenwriters: Patrick Stettner


Julie is not having a good day. Today she expects to be downsized, so when a young assistant shows up late with Julie's presentation materials and the flimsy excuse of flight delays, it is only reasonable to vent her frustration and vow to have the girl fired. But when the dreaded call from headquarters comes, Julie learns she is being promoted instead. Later, in the hotel bar, Julie encounters the young woman and they warily make amends. A celebration begins that ends as a dark journey through a night of debauchery, deception and, ultimately, self-discovery.

Writer/director Patrick Stettner choreographs this stylish film as a dance macabre. The sterile atmosphere of a corporate hotel is juxtaposed against the unfolding human drama. Removed from their "other" lives, the characters find a neutral territory—strangers thrown together. Sharp, calculated performances drive the plot. Rarely is casting in an independent film so perfect. Stockard Channing as Julie is brilliant, her wonderfully revealing face flickering between the aggressive executive and the lonely woman she fears she has become. Paula (Julia Stiles) is complicated and enigmatic, embodying the one thing Julie doesn't have and will never have again—reckless youth. Stettner cleverly toys with our preconceptions, and what emerges is a tale of power, not just of men over women but also of the exchange of power between two strong female characters. When Nick (Frederick Weller), a corporate headhunter, stumbles unwittingly into their game, he is drawn into a night's odyssey he will not soon forget—or will he?

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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