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The Comfort of Strangers

Promotional poster
Directed by Paul Schrader
Produced by Mario Cotone
Angelo Rizzoli Jr.
Written by Harold Pinter
Starring Natasha Richardson
Christopher Walken
Rupert Everett
Helen Mirren
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
Cinematography Dante Spinotti
Editing by Bill Pankow
Distributed by Skouras Pictures
Release date(s) 1 September 1990 (Italy)
30 November 1990 (UK)
Running time 107 minutes
Country Italy
United Kingdom
Language English

The Comfort of Strangers is a 1990 film directed by Paul Schrader. The screenplay is by Harold Pinter, adapted from a short novel of the same title by Ian McEwan. The film stars Natasha Richardson, Christopher Walken, Rupert Everett and Helen Mirren. It was screened out of competition at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.[1]



Colin (Everett) and Mary (Richardson), a couple unsure of where their relationship is going, are on holiday in Venice where they meet Robert (Walken), a smooth bar owner who tells them stories about his abusive father and the humiliating revenge which Robert's four sisters took on both the father and Robert himself. Although Colin and Mary find Robert and his wife, the stylish and demure Caroline (Mirren), less than agreeable company, they are inexplicably, almost hypnotically, drawn to the older couple, who turn out to be even more dangerous than they seem, leading to a violent climax.


Differences between novel and film

Schrader has said of McEwan's book that it is "terrific, but a little one-sided" and that he was not sure he agreed with its theme, that "no amount of civilization can overcome the fundamental hostility between men and women".

Changes were also made to the character of Robert. In the book, Robert is a young thug with a gold chain and a pattern of pistols embroidered into his shirt; Schrader did not think an audience would believe Colin and Mary would go off with such a man, so Walken plays the character as a suave, Armani-suited cosmopolitan.


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