Perfect Strangers (2003) (Rental)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 95:05
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Gaylene Preston

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Sam Neill
Rachael Blake
Joel Tobeck
Robyn Malcolm
Madeleine Sami
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Plan 9

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Gayleen Preston, writer/director of Perfect Strangers step forward and take a bow. You have managed to take what seems at first glance a very simple set-up and turn it into one of the most original thrillers I have seen. There is some doubt in my mind whether it can truly be classified as a thriller as such but it is the closest genre I have to offer. I defy anyone to work out where this film is heading in advance.

    Perfect Strangers was made on the ruggedly beautiful north-west coast of New Zealand's south island and features one of New Zealand's best acting exports, Sam Neill, and Rachael Blake, the Australian actress best known for her AFI-award winning turns in the TV drama Wildside and Lantana. This film is basically a two-hander and they are both excellent throughout. It is a testament to the quality of the screenplay that despite its obviously small budget it has managed to attract actors of such note.

    I can only tell you a small part of the plot without spoiling it for you, so let me just say that a woman (Rachael Blake) living in a small town, working in a dead-end job is lonely and in need of male company. She meets a man (Sam Neill) at the local pub and agrees to go back to his boat, where she passes out (probably from drinking too much). When she awakes she finds that the boat has headed out to sea. Where the movie goes from there is anywhere but where you would expect.

    The tone of the film is tense and claustrophobic with a slow build up of tension greatly aided by the excellent soundtrack and rugged land and seascapes.

    If you want to see a really interesting, intelligent, thought-provoking thriller, see this movie. It is highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was very good with night scenes showing most required details.

    The colour was very good throughout with all colours being well saturated and free from colour bleeding. The skin colouring was very natural. Having said that, this film has a dark colour scheme due to the mostly stormy weather and the bleak nature of the area used for most of the filming.

    There were no noticeable artefacts of any kind.

    There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired. I sampled them and found they were virtually exact to the spoken word and helpfully showed on the side of the screen for the character who was talking.

    This is a single layered disc so there is no layer change to contend with.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is very good, bordering on excellent.

    This DVD contains only one audio option: a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand once leaving the town, however the early scenes included some muffled dialogue which made it difficult to understand what was being said.    

    There were no problems with audio sync.    

    The score of this film by Plan 9 was excellent: very eerie and well suited to the material. The music included many directional effects which added to the tension.

    The surround speakers were constantly for directional effects and music and greatly added to the claustrophobic nature of the film. Sea, rain and wind sounds were also excellent.

    The subwoofer was used constantly to add to the suspense.


Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu included a scene selection function but precious little else.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie is being released in June 2004 in Region 1 for sale including a director's commentary, making of, deleted scenes and two other featurettes. I believe this is the rental release for Region 4 which would explain its bare bones nature. At this point I would recommend the Region 1 version but watch this space.


    This disc contains an extremely original and well-made thriller from New Zealand.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is nearly excellent.

    The disc has no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, June 07, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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