The Perfect Guy
Daft, box-ticking stalker thriller starring Michael Ealy and Sanaa Lathan
A throwback to the sort of trashy, post Fatal Attraction lover / flatmate / nanny from hell thrillers that were all the rage in the 1990s, David M Rosenthal's The Perfect Guy benefits from some smart casting choices and puts its assorted clichés to occasionally effective use, though it eventually sinks under the weight of its own ridiculousness.
Sanaa Lathan stars as Leah, a successful LA business executive who splits up with her commitment phobic boyfriend Dave (Morris Chestnut) and is soon swept off her feet by Carter (Michael Ealy), a charming stranger she meets in a coffee shop. However, their courtship comes to a screeching halt after Carter savagely beats a stranger just for talking to Leah, prompting her, not unreasonably, to call things off. Unfortunately, Carter doesn't take too kindly to being dumped and quickly turns full-on stalker.
There's nothing inherently wrong with clichés if they're marshalled correctly and Rosenthal at least gets the appropriate mileage out of the creepier scenes, even if you've seen them all countless times before (e.g. the moment Leah's particularly cute cat appears you'll be concerned for its safety). In addition, Lathan displays an engaging combination of vulnerability and inner-strength, while twinkly-eyed Ealy gives good psychopath, clearly relishing the chance to escape his perpetual nice guy typecasting.
Unfortunately, the script is far too predictable for its own good and the film quickly becomes logically ridiculous – it's hard to believe Carter isn't arrested for the initial beating, for example, just as it strains credulity that his previous behaviour wouldn't have landed him on some sort of mental health watch-list.
Ultimately, The Perfect Guy manages to deliver a handful of tawdry thrills and remains solidly watchable thanks to its classy cast, but it lacks the ambition to rise above generic thriller box-ticking. Perhaps wait until it shows up on Netflix.
Selected release from Fri 20 Nov.