Melanie (Rachael Blake) is single and looking, like her friends. One night at the pub, a few drinks later, she goes off with a handsome man (Sam Neill), another possible Mr Right. He leads her to his boat and takes her on a mysterious trip to his remote and wild island home, but the romantic surface is shattered when she realises he is keeping her prisoner, like a man obsessed. Violent and dramatic events leave them both the worse for wear, and Melanie is confused about her feelings for this complicated man. When a few days later her one-time (as in one night) lover Bill (Joel Tobeck) turns up unexpectedly, she has a lot of explaining to do – some of which she does with a shovel.
 

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A woman goes home with a stranger, only to discover she\'s been kidnapped.

Melanie, Rachael Blake, lives alone in a small city on New Zealand\'s South Island; she works in a fish and chip shop and, on Saturday nights, she goes drinking with her friends, hoping to find a man. On this particular night she meets a stranger, Sam Neill, who offers to take her back to his place. Gaylene Preston\'s very accomplished film skillfully plays with genre expectations. It starts out like a thriller in which a vulnerable woman apparently makes the fatal mistake of going off with a man she doesn\'t know, but a series of twists and turns, plus an unexpectedly mordant sense of humour, keep the audience guessing. Rachael Blake, so wonderful in Lantana, gives another superb performance here, intelligent and touching, while Sam Neill successfully combines charm and menace as the stranger who changes Melanie\'s life. It\'s virtually a two-hander, though a third character appears late in the day, and the other star of the film is the landscape, the wintry west coast of the South Island which is so evocatively photographed by Alun Bollinger. Perfect Strangers is one of the best films to come from New Zealand in recent years.