As a huge fan of David Gregory’s book Dinner With a Perfect Stranger, I finally got around to watching the short film The Perfect Stranger which was made several years ago based on the book. (Not to be confused with Halle Barry and Bruce Willis picture of the same name.)
No, I’m not one of those conservative Christians who is afraid to use the word movie, but with the main body clocking in at only 70 minutes, film seems the better word. Interviews with the two main cast members and the director — curiously and awkwardly embedded in the closing credits — keep things running past the 90 minute mark.
Gregory’s book could be classified as fiction or apologetics, depending on how you read it. It certainly incorporates a lot of teaching in the narrative; the kind of Socratic dialog that The Shack is now famous for. If you’ve taken even the most basic course in personal evangelism, the content of this is nothing new. However, for a friend, neighbor, relative or co-worker, this could be the ‘tract’ you’ve been looking for.
Basically, The Perfect Stranger is to any other apologetics video what the H2O Course is to the Alpha Course. It brings the issues of faith and doctrine to life in the form of Nikki Cominksy, a young wife and mother; and her dinner companion who may or may not be Jesus Christ. Yes, that’s Nikki — female — not Nick as in the print version.
If you missed the novel, basically the lead character is given a written invitation to have dinner at a favorite restaurant, signed by someone claiming to be Jesus Christ. Fearing a trick by people in the office — more so in the print version — but wanting to enjoy the free meal, the offer is taken up. Having a female lead in the movie version just adds to the vulnerability.
But then it gets complicated. In the print sequel, A Day With A Perfect Stranger, it is the wife who meets the same stranger on an airplane. In a film version of that second novel; the couple’s daughter, Sarah, is now older and on her way to college when she encounters Another Perfect Stranger. That one, I haven’t seen yet.
Nikki is played earnestly and sincerely by Pamela Brumley, while Jesus Christ is played by Jefferson Moore, who is also credited as the writer of the “original” screenplay, though it appears to follow the heart and soul of the book rather closely. The quality of the DVD is not bad, although stretching out the introductory scenes, so we could get to know Nikki better might have helped, as the picture advances rapidly to the actual dinner.
As stated previously, if you’ve got friends who have questions about religion in general and/or Christianity in particular, this could be the gift or witness item you’re looking for. Watch it yourself first, and be prepared for the follow up discussion that will almost certainly arise.
Note: In the U.S. both movies are also available in a two disc set at $29.99 US; both films retail individually for $14.99 US each. The books are still in hardcover only (and large print hardcover) and are also available in a set or individually.