Director Paul Schrader

Production year 1990

Length 107min.

Country USA/Italy/UK


An English couple holiday in Venice to sort out their relationship. There is some friction and distance between them, and we also sense they are being watched. One evening, they lose their way looking for a restaurant, and a stranger invites them to accompany him. He plies them with wine and grotesque stories from his childhood. They leave disoriented, physically ill, and morally repelled. But the next day, when the stranger sees them in the piazza, they accept an invitation to his sumptuous flat. After this visit, the pair find the depth to face questions about each other, only to be drawn back into the mysterious and menacing fantasies of the stranger and his mate.


Best Actress | Evening Standard British Film Awards, UK, 1991


Paul Schrader
Paul Schrader



Angelo Rizzoli Jr.


Ian McEwan, Harold Pinter

Director of Photography

Dante Spinotti

Production designer

Gianni Quaranta, Luigi Marchione

Music by

Angelo Badalamenti


Drew Kunin, Mel Zelniker, Maurice Schell


Bill Pankow


Christopher Walken, Rupert Everett, Natasha Richardson, Helen Mirren

Production company(ies)

Erre Produzioni, Reteitalia, Sovereign Pictures, The Rank Organisation

Paul Schrader

Born 1946 Although his name is often linked to that of the "movie brat" generation (Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Brian De Palma, etc.) Paul Schrader's background couldn't have been more different than theirs. His strict Calvinist parents refused to allow him to see a film until he was 18. Although he more than made up for lost time when studying at Calvin College, Columbia University and UCLA's graduate film program, his influences were far removed from those of his contemporaries - Robert Bresson, Yasujirô Ozu and Carl Theodor Dreyer (about whom he wrote a book, Transcendental Style in Film) rather than Saturday-morning serials. After a period as a film critic (and protégé of Pauline Kael), he began writing screenplays, hitting the jackpot when he and his brother, Leonard Schrader (a Japanese expert), were paid the then-record sum of $325.000, thus establishing his reputation as one of Hollywood's top screenwriters, which was consolidated when Martin Scorsese filmed Schrader's script Taxi Driver (1976), written in the early 1970. The success of the film allowed Schrader to start directing his own films, which have been notable for their willingness to take stylistic and thematic risks while still working squarely within the Hollywood system. The most original of his films (which he and many others regard as his best) was the Japanese co-production Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985).


Blue Collar ( 1978), Hardcore ( 1979), American Gigolo ( 1980), Cat People (1982), Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), Light of Day (1987), Patty Hearst ( 1988), The Comfort of Strangers (1990), Light Sleeper (1992), Touch (1997), Untitled: New Blue (1995, doc.), Affliction ( 1997), Forever Mine (1999), Auto Focus (2002), Dominion (2005), The Walker ( 2007), Adam Resurrected (2008), The Canyons (2013), Venice 70: Future Reloaded (2013, doc.), Dying of the Light (2014), Dog Eat Dog (2016), First Reformed (2017), Dark ( 2017), The Card Counter (2021).