Combustible Celluloid
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With: Stockard Channing, Julia Stiles, Frederick Weller
Written by: Patrick Stettner
Directed by: Patrick Stettner
MPAA Rating: R for strong language and some sexuality
Running Time: 84
Date: 01/19/2001

The Business of Strangers (2001)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Power Trips

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's difficult not to compare this film to In the Company of Men, with its steely, impersonal, office buildings and airport hotels. But The Business of Strangers has an entirely different agenda in mind. Stockard Channing stars in a powerful role as Julie Styron, a lonely businesswoman who has forsaken family to climb to the top. While on a business trip, she fires an AV girl, Paula (Julia Stiles), who shows up late to a presentation. But just when Julie thinks she is also going to be fired, she gets promoted. Staying alone at an anonymous airport hotel, she decides to celebrate and even invites Paula -- staying at the same hotel -- to join her. The two women begin a night of talk, lies and power struggles that culminates when a third party, Frederick Weller, joins them. Though the film is fascinating up to this point, it goes needlessly over the top. Writer and director Patrick Stettner makes a strong feature debut here. The Deep End and Suture directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee serve as producers.

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