Review: ‘The Perfect Stranger’

Distinguished mainly by its lovely lensing of the Spanish countryside, "The Perfect Stranger" is a pleasant but feeble fish-out-of-water dramedy that never finds a confident groove or delivers a single surprise.

Distinguished mainly by its lovely lensing of the Spanish countryside, “The Perfect Stranger” is a pleasant but feeble fish-out-of-water dramedy that never finds a confident groove or delivers a single surprise. Colm Meaney is likable enough as a taciturn Irishman who takes up residence in a Majorcan village where he doesn’t speak the language; naturally, his neighbors mistake his incomprehension for insight, and Arturo Ruiz Serrano’s script proceeds to distribute magical solutions and romantic payoffs like confetti. Toni Bestard’s helming debut could enjoy limited theatrical sojourns en route to its smallscreen destination.

When Mark (Meaney) arrives in Majorca for reasons linked to a woman from his past (glimpsed in Polaroids and flashbacks), the townsfolk assume he’s there to reopen the local store and boost their floundering economy. Mark gently coaxes quiet loner Biel (Guilem Juaneda) and sub-Lisbeth Salander rebel chick Celia (Natalia Rodriguez) out of their respective shells, while giving sperm-seeking maternal hopeful Isabel (Ana Wagener) and friendly cop Amancio (Carlos Santos) ample room to ingratiate themselves. Appealing thesps do what they can with the small-town shenanigans, but not enough to elevate this predictable, tonally strained if technically competent effort.

The Perfect Stranger

Spain

Production

A Singular Audiovisual presentation in co-production with Televisio de les Illes Balears, Optim TV, Fundacio Mallorca Turisme, with the associate production of Palma Pictures, with the collaboration of Televisio de Catalunya, with the support of Instituto de Cinematografia, Las Artes Audiovisuales Govern Balear, Consell de Mallorca. Produced by Miquel Verd. Executive producers, Verd, Enric Canals, Colm Meaney. Directed by Toni Bestard. Screenplay, Arturo Ruiz Serrano.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Nicolas Pinzon Sarmiento; editor, Marti Roca; music, Alejandro Roman; art director, Toni Socias; costume designer, Ines Glorian. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival (World Cinema), Jan. 15, 2012. (Also in 2011 Busan Film Festival.) Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Colm Meaney, Ana Wagener, Carlos Santos, Natalia Rodriguez, Guilem Juaneda, Vicky Pena, Biel Duran, Kate Burdette, Pascal Ulli, Santi Pons, Xisco Segura. (English, Spanish dialogue)

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