PERFECT STRANGERS, or a cellph-conscious wake-up call

I love movies. Especially movies that make me think and stay with me long past the credits. And I’m fond of foreign movies.

Perfetti Sconosciuti / Perfect Strangers is an Italian movie that I had the chance to watch a couple of years back.

What’s it about? This modern poison known as smartphone.

Our whole life exists in a little black box. A precious box; it knows all our secrets, and must be left away from anyone else’s hands. Tables can turn in a second… This black box is our smartphone, an object that we will rethink after watching this movie.

We are in Rome where a group of friends are gathered over dinner in the apartment of Eva and Rocco. It is a special night; the group is anticipating a moon eclipse… But there’s more than just that, as the life of three normal looking, happily together couples is likely to change tonight. Good food is served, wine and witty convo are flowing.

It’s all fun and games until the host, Eva, suggest a little group game. What does this game consist of? It’s a modern ‘truth or dare’: everyone present has to put his phone open on the table, and every time he or she receives a message, an e-mail, a photo, he or she has to show it to the rest of the group. When he or she receives a call, he or she must answer on loudspeaker so that the rest of the group can hear the conversation.

This is not just a movie. Perfetti Sconosciuti / Perfect Strangers is a real stage play. The modern ‘truth-or-dare’ is not as innocent as its predecessor: You’re helpless; totally out of control. The group of friends consists of three couples: Eva and Rocco, parents of a 17 year old teenager; their friends: Carlotta and Lele, parents of two young kids; Cosimo and Bianca who have just tied the knot, and finally Peppe, a sports teacher whose girlfriend “could not come tonight”, as he said, while all waited impatiently to finally meet her.

I won’t say more. Watch it. Perfetti Sconosciuti / Perfect Strangers is not a chick flick. It’s not a rom-com. The bittersweet script sends you on a self-evaluation trip and leaves you red-faced and self-conscious about the overrated importance that you let your smartphone and strangers “living” in it have in your very own life.

Is it worth it? Over and above the age-old habit of cheating, over and above the concept of monogamy and polygamy- far beyond other notions like denial or oblivion vis-a-vis our own relationship and the degree of flexibility we (both partners) allow… Are these secrets you keep in our smartphones today really worth jeopardizing, even losing the trust of the one we’re with? Are they worth being called secrets to start with?

What’s with this great need — no wait, what’s with this fatal addiction to attention from strangers? Is it worth wrecking a great relationship for a picture or a few lines? Most of all, if we too keep silly secrets in our smartphones, can we ever trust that our partner doesn’t?

Let’s give it a thought.




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