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Never Talk to Strangers (1995)

Directed by Peter Hall  Written by Lewis A. Green & Jordan Rush

  If there was one thing my mother reiterated to me when I was a child, it was to never speak with strangers. The problem with that practice being, whose to say those strangers won’t try to speak with you? Clearly having a “duh” connotation, it seems that while one part of that may be a warning, other’s see it as a challenge. Most of these “types” seek something or someone new. Making a reward out of obtaining that person, in whatever sense, seeming to be more enjoyable than any actual form of compensation. But should they be the ones watching out for themselves? So, that’s more or less what you get before going into this movie which made for a nice concept I thought.

  It follows Dr. Sarah Taylor (Rebecca De Mornay) whose the court appointed therapist assigned to figure out whether Max Cheski (Harry Dean Stanton) was competent to stand trial. She otherwise lead a pretty quiet life except for her one friend who lived in the same building. Cliff, (Dennis Miller) who she shared few flirtatious moments here and there. Though it seemed his only interest lay with getting inside her pants again. Firstly after a drunken night together, which proved in some sense that he was capable of being attractive. Later getting groceries at the market she comes across a stranger who introduces himself as Tony Ramirez (Antonio Banderas) and asks quite frankly, if she would like to be his “friend.” Shy at first, she quickly warms up to his obvious charm and gives him her number after running into him several more times before actually leaving to her home. Within the next couple of days she receives a call from him asking her to indulge in a wine tasting held for two at his apartment. Using that night to gain a bit of trust as she falls asleep in his arms after sharing some information concerning her mother’s death and the effect it’s had on her. Giving in to, the sun-rise, Sarah leaves to go speak with Max later that day having an undeniable and overwhelming sunny disposition.

  The glow doesn’t last long however as it seems Sarah faints while attending a fair with Tony, noticing how handy he was with a gun while playing some of the games. Not only that but it seemed Sarah had begun receiving some strange gifts from a secret admirer the more time she spent with him. First some wilted flowers, then directed to the papers where she found her obituary. The last straw being her dead cat being sent as a gift as she tries to get help from the police and gets little back. Her father, for whatever reason, had also decided to come back into her life as though the past could be as easily forgotten. Keeping Tony at bay as best as could, having a fight one night as Cliff intervenes, kicked out by almost instantly. The one thing keeping her coming back for more having to be his aggressive and sexual tantalizing behavior that proves oh so tempting. The sex scenes between the two are pretty steamy and not too bad of an excuse to see both leads “get down” and dirty.

  After this point it seems Sarah feels like confessing her love for Tony, (because that’s what you do to strangers, right?) as he does the same. Cliff has a run-in with Sarah’s secret admirer who leaves him pretty bruised up and put in the hospital. Sarah decides to hire a detective at the suggestion of the officer involved in her case. Receiving a final note from her stalker; this time carved onto her wall above her bed. Having come back from Tony’s it seems he has been keeping a secret or two from her. Having stored away some folders on just about everything that has happened throughout her life, including the incident that occurred when she was 5. Upon returning home however, Tony wasn’t far behind, claiming to actually be a cop from Puerto Rico who was sent to investigate her ex. Her father lets himself into her place looking surprised at the entire ordeal going on around him, unaware that Sarah’s past had come forth. Letting the truth be seen for what was really going on.

  Being this: when Sarah was 5, a disagreement broke out between her parents with her mother assuming her father to be nothing more than a predator. Fed up with the accusations, he pushed his wife down the stairs. But instead of calling the cops he asked for some help from his daughter. He got out a gun and explained how to shoot and that not only would he help her pull the trigger, but they say it was an accident. Finally figuring out all the pieces hidden away inside, she’s faced with being torn between her father and Tony. She starts to extend her hand out to Tony as he looks at her and says “trust me,” words that sound all too familiar as she follows through with a shot.

  It may sound a bit on the confusing side (it’s not really) and there is a twist or two at the end that I had forgotten about making for a pretty decent film overall. I did think they did a good job of completely misleading the audience. As well that one can only begin to imagine the type of psychological damage that may occur and how it could truly change someone the way it did for her. Sarah is finally able to have her past come forward and release any demons she may have been holding onto. I had been a bit curious when I started the movie if De Mornay would be playing too much of the victim, which I wasn’t used to seeing her as. (Like she could ever disappoint though) She’s great at being the sex pot but able to balance it well with being crazy or whacked out. Most women don’t get recognized for or bother to try for that nowadays. Antonio was a terrific choice for her “stranger.” He was coming down from his success of almost hit after hit with movies and certainly had the sex appeal to seduce not just the lead but audience. A sexy thriller with a pretty good goose chase at the end with the outcome perhaps being a nice surprise against the typical, happy ending run-around, that other films tend to fall into.