While not entirely devoid of merit, David M. Rosenthal’s trashy erotic thriller The Perfect Guy (2015) poorly imitates Fatal Attraction (1987) and Single White Female (1992), along with a hundred other examples of the genre that it has cherry-picked from. Sanaa Lathan is the suited and booted lobbyist Leah – although her character is so thin that what she does for a living is by-the-by. Leah has recently split from her boyfriend Dave (Morris Chestnut), who was unwilling to commit to marriage.
Enter Carter (Michael Ealy), who works in “corporate espionage” and who Leah had caught the eye of two months earlier when picking up her iced latte. The two meet again by chance at a bar, Carter the knight in shining armour when he saves her from a seedy drunk who won’t take no for an answer. The chemistry between Leah and Carter is self-evident: they have a whirlwind romance, bumping and grinding in a sweaty underground club before falling into the bathroom for a brief moment of hot passion. Leah thinks he might be ‘the one’ when she takes him to meet her strict parents, whom he charms with his devilish good looks and swagger.
Ealy slots naturally into these moments, deeply believable as he is as a ‘perfect guy’. Soon, however, comes the twist. On the drive home from Leah’s parents the pair stop at a gas station. Leah is left alone in Ealy’s black Mustang, which attracts the attention of a local who wants to photograph the car. This is enough to send Carter into a rage and he pummels the man, terrifying Leah who promptly refuses to see him again. It’s here that the film takes a turn for the worse. Carter lets loose his inner-demons and begins to stalk Leah, using his skills to hack her email and social accounts as well as plant cameras all over the house. He even steals her beloved cat. In the meantime, Leah has reignited her romance with old flame Dave, who agrees that maybe marriage and babies are for him after all.
Ealy struggles playing the psycho, coming across as a baby-faced annoyance rather than an intriguing antagonist. Worse still are his actions which, while incredibly creepy (look out for the stomach churning tooth-brush sucking scene), are lacking the level of madness and menace that we’ve seen in previous, superior examples of the genre. Ealy shouldn’t bare too much of the burden of blame, as the responsibility lies in the overly-conventional screenplay and lack of character development. One of the pleasures of this particular subgenre is how it borders on the absurd, masked in the erotic and frankly needs to have a certain level of silliness. A Perfect Guy plays it all too straight and to the point of insipid functionality. It all passes over the eyes swiftly enough but by the end you may well feel a little sorry for the cast whose not inconsiderable talents are largely wasted.
Joe Walsh | @JosephDAWalsh