The Comfort of Strangers

Monday, May 18, 2015

Post-film discussion with director Paul Schrader! 25th anniversary — archival 35mm print

Please note: due to unforeseen circumstances, Helen Mirren is no longer able to introduce the film as previously announced.

Stuck in a relationship rut, English lovers Colin and Mary (Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson) return to beautiful Venice, the site of their passionate tryst years prior. Lost amidst the city’s picturesque canals and dark alleys, they happen upon white-suited stranger Robert (Christopher Walken). A suave aristocrat — or so he claims — Robert plies the young couple with vino, regales them with intimate tales of his youth, and lures them back to his spectacular palazzo for a brief rest. They awaken to find their clothes gone and Robert’s mysterious, physically impaired wife Caroline (Helen Mirren) watching them sleep — and that’s when the psychosexual mind games really begin… An unlikely mix of shocking horror, wicked comedy, and European opulence, THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS boasts one of the most astonishing list of collaborators in modern movies: a script by Harold Pinter (adapted from an Ian McEwan novel), cinematography by Dante Spinotti (Heat), costumes by Giorgio Armani, music by Angelo Badalamenti (Blue Velvet), editing by De Palma regular Bill Pankow (a previous Celluloid Dreams guest), and sets by Gianni Quaranta (1900), but it’s the cool, highly controlled direction by Paul Schrader that ties the stunning individual components together into a menacing whole. Schrader himself is said to have called THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS the best directed of all his own work, and we’re thrilled to give this gorgeous, sinister erotic thriller a long-overdue big-screen celebration.

Part of the series Celluloid Dreams

“Its lush visuals concealing a core of fetid malevolence, Schrader’s film inhabits a strange, unsettling territory somewhere between art movie and thriller… sensual and shocking in its casual evocation of erotic violence, emotional manipulation and moral torpor.” – Time Out (London)

  • Country USA/Italy/UK
  • Rating R
  • Running Time 107 minutes
  • Director Paul Schrader

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and as well as through general internet searches.