The premise of this movie is simple — can we truly live in open honesty, where all of our secrets are laid bare in the open? Knowing full well that we also have to deal with the consequences? Whilst it may be the mature thing to do, it is not easy to apply in real life – with one secret leads to another, linking more people in the process.
This philosophical question starts with a simple dinner game – where every guest at the table places their phone on the table. Whenever there is an email or a message (of any kind), the recipient has to read it out loud to everybody. Along with this, whenever there is an incoming call, the call has to be put on the speaker so everybody can also hear the content of the conversation. In Perfect Strangers (Perfetti sconosciuti), the hosts of the diners are Rocco (Marco Giallini) – a plastic surgeon married to a therapist named Eva (Kasia Smutniak). Their guests are Lele (Valerio Mastandrea) who’s having an affair with a younger girl – and Carlotta (Anna Foglietta), who’s also thinking of having an extramarital fun with an online friend. Then, there are also Cosimo (Edoardo Leo), a reformed casanova who is married to Bianca (Alba Rohrwacher), and Peppe (Giuseppe Battiston), who is apparently dating a mysterious girl.
In this situation that is ripe with potential twists and shocking reveals, the director – Paolo Genovese – keeps the viewer laughing and squirming in anticipation of each unravelling secret. All of these is done, with the same underlying question – that – if we can know all of the secrets kept by our partner, would we want to know? And if we do, can we handle them?
The film also highlights our over-reliance on our mobile phone; it has morphed from a communication device into our black book that chronicles our secrets.