The Business of Strangers

Rated 3.0 Career woman Julie (Stockard Channing) is making city-to-city management sales pitches when she fires her new assistant Paula (Julia Stiles) for being late to a meeting. She then receives word that her company’s CEO is flying out to see her. Figuring she is also being fired, Julie meets with headhunter Nick (Frederick Weller) to strategize her professional recovery. As the story progresses, flights are canceled, futures are rearranged and Julie and Paula reunite for a night of drinking and male bashing in which Nick becomes the target of an impulsive revenge plot. The drama loses its initial edge and footing along the way, but Channing’s performance is potent. Writer-director Patrick Stettner successfully conjures up the general bleakness and cannibalism of the corporate ladder climbing while jolting his characters with alternating currents of doubt and control in a milieu in which “everybody eats shit.” It’s just a matter of to what degree.