I can deal with Rowena being a killer, as nonsensical as it was. What really pissed me off about Rowena is that she was a terrible journalist. I've been a journalist for more than 20 years, so bear with me because this is the culmination of years' worth of frustration at how journalists are portrayed in movies and on TV.
In just the opening scene, Rowena breaks one of the cardinal rules of journalism: We can’t pretend to be someone we’re not in order to get a story. It’s just not allowed. She's also not allowed to hack into a dude's computer and record him without his knowledge. Granted, you can absolutely say that an individual reporter could break the rules, but Rowena brings this story along with Miles to their editor and they’re transparent about how they got the illicit recording of the senator admitting his affair. Miles says it’s legal, but it’s not. Had Rowena recorded the conversation herself on a recording device she brought with her, OK, that’s legal in New York (though she still couldn’t pretend to be an aide; more on that in a sec). You can’t just tap into someone else’s computer and steal private information that way, which is what Miles did to get that recording. In the real world of journalism, there was the infamous Chiquita case in Cincinnati in 1998. A reporter wrote an explosive exposé on Chiquita International that detailed how it secretly controlled a ton of independent banana companies and how its ships had been used to smuggle cocaine. The story was huge news and at first heralded as a great piece of investigative journalism, a story that took its two reporters a year to investigate. But then it came out that one of the reporters hacked into the company’s phone system to get thousands of voicemails upon which he based his reporting. Because he got those voicemails illicitly, the newspaper renounced the story within days and paid Chiquita more than $10 million. No editor anywhere in the U.S. would put their paper in that kind of position, and that’s exactly the position Miles was putting his boss in.
As for Rowena pretending to be an aid, let's look at the landmark Food Lion case in 1992. In that case, two ABC journalists lied on employment applications, providing false references and lying about their educational and employment backgrounds. Based on those lies, they were hired by the Food Lion grocery store chain and exposed unsafe, unhealthy and illegal practices committed by the store -- including selling old meat so rancid that it had to be cleaned with bleach to mask the odor. Whether the allegations were true didn't ultimately matter because Food Lion sued ABC in federal court. I'll spare you details of the years-long court battle, but long story short: A federal court found the ABC producers had trespassed. Today, any remotely reputable boss in this country would squirm if a journalist failed to identify themselves as a journalist, and not just on employment applications. Sure, someone can say something in public, and if I overhear it, I can absolutely report it. But I can't pretend to be something other than a journalist in order to get info that I then report. It's a no-no.
Some other "oh, COME ON" moments for me: 1) How does a supposedly top-rate journalist have the know-how to apparently be one of the best investigators in the country yet needs a colleague to set up her damn email account?! By 2007, several newspapers had dropped to a few days' publication because the web was, y'know, a THING. BlackBerry had been plaguing us with work emails since 2003, and Apple's iPhone was released in 2007, the year this movie came out. Perfect Stranger treats the Internet as though it's as nascent as did The Net, and that movie came out 11 years earlier. 2) She kisses the guy she's investigating. I'm so sick of every Hollywood depiction of journalists showing them seducing their sources. We can't do it! We'd be fired and banished from the business. It's sticky enough if you start dating a source after you've covered him. You cannot make out with him and then write a story about him. It's way past unethical. 3) There's no way any hard-hitting reporter would leave her phone at the table when she went to the restroom at the restaurant. (I'm referring to the moment Harrison checks her text messages and sees Miles' incriminating note about the computer.) When you're mid-story, you take your phone everywhere. I've interviewed plenty of people in public bathrooms, in my bathtub, crouched at the end of my dad's driveway on Christmas ... (Insert Jason saying, "Brag" right about here.) Cell phones were a pretty big part of our jobs even in the sepia-toned age of 2007. She would not have left it behind. And even if she had, she sure as hell would've noticed Harrison kept it beyond that. He pulls it out midway through their drive home. No friggin' way. I'd have scoured that restaurant from top to bottom by then looking for the thing. I mean, maybe it's possible I'm supposed to believe she wanted him to find the phone ... But I don't see how that would assist in her end game.
And the final thing is: It feels like this movie was written for a 20-year-old to play the Rowena role. It would have translated better if she had been someone new to the profession making rookie mistakes and being a technological idiot. Instead, Halle Berry is a 41-year-old woman who should, in theory, have some 15-20 years experience by now. She should be a pro but she acts like a newbie. In that sense, the whole thing felt like bad casting.