The Business of Strangers

The Business of Strangers is a 2001 film that tells the story of an eventful night shared between a middle-aged businesswoman and her young assistant. The independent film was directed by Patrick Stettner; it stars Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles.

The Business of Strangers
Business of strangers ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPatrick Stettner
Produced byRobert H. Nathan
Written byPatrick Stettner
StarringStockard Channing
Julia Stiles
Fred Weller
Music byAlex Lasarenko
CinematographyTeodoro Maniaci
Edited byKeiko Deguchi
Distributed byIFC Films
Release date
  • January 19, 2001 (2001-01-19) (Sundance Film Festival)
  • April 24, 2001 (2001-04-24) (San Francisco International Film Festival)
  • October 12, 2001 (2001-10-12) (Austin Film Festival)
  • December 7, 2001 (2001-12-07) (Los Angeles, California)
  • December 21, 2001 (2001-12-21) (United States)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States


Julie Styron (Channing) is a middle-aged businesswoman flying out of town to attend an important meeting. When her CEO contacts her and asks her to meet him for dinner afterward, she worries that her job may be in danger and engages the help of a headhunter named Nick Harris (Fred Weller) to look for a new position. Her mood worsens when her new assistant Paula Murphy (Stiles) is 45 minutes late to the meeting, which as a result goes badly. After its end, Julie fires Paula and they part ways.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Later that evening Julie is unexpectedly promoted to CEO of the company. After both their flights home are delayed, Julie and Paula meet up by chance in a hotel bar. Julie apologizes for losing her temper earlier and buys Paula a drink. As they talk, Julie, who gave up having a family for her career, begins to question whether she made the right choice. The two of them visit the gym and the pool before returning to the bar.

Nick joins them, explaining that his flight was also canceled. Paula rushes off to the bathroom and is followed by Julie, who wants to know what was wrong. Later, Paula informs her that Nick raped a friend of hers in Boston. Julie is shocked but eventually convinced, and suggests they get revenge. Paula tells her to just forget about it.

The two retire to Julie's room, and when Nick knocks on the door later on, Paula invites him in and then drugs him. In order to keep him from realizing what they've done, the two women take him down into a restricted area of the hotel which is being renovated. Julie runs upstairs to get Nick's briefcase, and returns to find Paula stripping him. Paula explains that this way when he wakes up he will hesitate to ask anyone what happened.

Paula photographs them all with her Polaroid camera. Paula finds a magic marker and they write words on Nick's chest and back like "pig" and "rapist". They are nearly discovered by a security guard, but he leaves without seeing them. Paula eventually confesses to Julie that it was she who was raped, not her friend — which Julie had already guessed. They return to Julie's room and sleep.

The next morning, Julie finds the word "loser" written in marker on her own stomach, and a few Polaroids on the bed of Paula sitting next to her own sleeping form. At the airport she meets up with Nick again. He reveals that he had never been to Boston, proving Paula's rape story to be an elaborate lie.


  1. ^ "The Business of Strangers(2001)". Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  2. ^ "The Business of Strangers (2001)". Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Business Of Strangers". Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  4. ^ "The Business of Strangers". Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  5. ^ "". Retrieved 20 October 2013. External link in |title= (help)
  6. ^ "BUSINESS OF STRANGERS". Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  7. ^ Holden, Stephen. "The Business of Strangers(2001)".

External linksEdit