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[Short Reviews]

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. Then she discovers 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 Stiles), and finds herself seduced by Paula’s nihilist mindset. Paula leads Julie through an evening of escalating misdeeds, including drugging a smirky young man, Nick (Frederick Weller), in Julie’s hotel room. The women strip him down, Paula 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 should accept the dubious Paula’s tale without question, and it’s nuts that she should act as a revenger. In fact, little is motivated in this unpleasant two-hander written and directed by first-time helmer Patrick Stettner. Channing and Stiles are fine, but they are fed nonsense to take to the big screen in what should have been, at best, an Off Off Off Broadway play.

BY GERALD PEARY

Issue Date: December 13 - 20, 2001

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