I believe I saw this originally on IFC back when I had cable. Well actually this one is waaaay back because I was still in my apartment on Seward when I still lived in Evanston. It is funny to me that I have had some of these movies for over 15 years (and even crazier is the fact that I have been with my husband that long already). This isn’t my typical fare, though I do like to get dramatic on occasion, especially if it’s an indie film like this one.
Julia Stiles and Stockard Channing are the main actors in this movie. I remember thinking that was cool since I hadn’t really seen Stockard in anything other than Grease. I loved her character in the Business of Strangers. Julie is a high powered business woman, a Vice President of a tech company. In the beginning of the movie, she thinks she is going to get shit canned because the CEO was coming out to see her special (which wasn’t a normal thing apparently?). Either way she did not expect the news to be good.
Enter Julia Stile’s character who is the A/V person for Julie’s presentation. She shows up late at the end of the meeting and since Stockard Channing’s character is already pissed off thinking she is getting the axe, she then proceeds to give Paula the axe as well. Poor Paula is standing behind her trying to explain that her plane was delayed while Julia is on the phone dismissively talking about her no longer having a job with the company.
We may think that is the end of their interaction, but as the title suggests they meet again.
Paula is a non-fiction writer who purports to write about her own life and adventures. She then begins to take Julie on an adventure as well. After Julie has the meeting with the CEO where she believes she is going to be fired, he actually ends up offering her the helm of the company. He says solemnly that he believes she is ready to take over the company for him. She is shocked, but also seems kind of sad about the whole thing. In the wake of her expectations of starting anew, it forced her to take a long hard look at her life and her climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Especially all the things she sacrificed to get there.
The Business of Strangers is an interesting slice of life type picture where two vastly different characters become close for the span of an evening. We see Paula’s flight get cancelled and her shuttle ride to the hotel. Of course she hits up the hotel bar. Julie immediately apologizes and promises that she is not in fact fired.
The twist comes in the form of a good looking headhunter named Nick (played by Frederick Weller). Julie hooks up with him ahead of the meeting just in case she needs another job. Nick, on the surface, seems like your typical sleazy too smooth for his own good type of guy. I’m not going to get too far into what happens with him and the girls, but suffice it to say it will definitely get you thinking about life and the relationship between women and men in both the corporate and personal arenas.
The acting is great, and it was nice to see Stockard in a role that had more meat to it. I know she has likely had other acting gigs since Grease (one would assume anyway) but this is the only other movie I personally have seen her in. She really nails the single corporate woman. And her affinity to Paula after how she initially took her, is interesting to see.
I’d definitely recommend this movie, especially if you are in a dramatic mood. I love IFC for their quirky films, and this one is certainly enjoyable.