En route to their holiday home, Michel bumps into Harry, who claims to be an old school friend. Charming and flattering – he thinks Michel could have been a great writer – Harry gradually insinuates himself into Michel’s household, bringing ‘solutions’ to his problems that are both liberating and totally immoral. A black, disturbing comedy thriller, and one of the most intelligent and original ‘homages to Hitchcock’ to be made in Europe.
France 2000, 117 Minutes
Michel, his wife Claire and their children are on their way to their holiday home when they bump into Harry, apparently an old school friend of Michel’s. Harry is charming, rich and generous, and quickly ingratiates himself. He believes that Michel has the makings of a great writer – he can quote a poem Michel wrote at school – and wants to help him achieve his potential. Everything in Michel’s garden is lovely. Except that the kids are brats, the car’s on its last wheels, the holiday home needs so much renovation that they’ll need a holiday to get over it, and Harry? Well, remember that talented Mr Ripley?
Like many of us, Michel has seen his youthful dreams wither in the glare of real life. The demands of making a living and of family life leave little time for writing; his literary career is, at best, a wistful might-have-been. But for Harry, every problem has a solution, and he sets about removing the obstacles in Michel’s way, interested only in his friend’s success. Indeed, the skilful use of mirrors in the film suggests that he’s almost an alter ego, prepared to do what Michel daren’t even think about.
The story of the friendly, apparently harmless, stranger disrupting your life isn’t new, and because of the many
references and similarities to Alfred Hitchcock’s work, this film has been compared Strangers on a Train. A better parallel might be the Faust story, with Harry as an affable but obsessive Mephistopheles offering Michel his heart’s desire in return for his soul. Michel, like any artist, has to decide how much – and who – he’s prepared to sacrifice for his art. However you interpret it, this is both a good psychological thriller and a witty black comedy, subtly scripted and well acted, perhaps the best and most intelligent ‘homage to Hitchcock’ yet made.
Michel – Laurent Lucas
Claire – Mathilde Seigneur
Harry – Sergi López
Plum – Sophie Guillemin
Director – Dominik Moll
Producer – Michel Saint-Jean
Screenplay – Dominik Moll & Gilles March,
Photography – Matthieu Poirot-Delpech
- “A great tale with many surprises. How did Michel manage to sleep after killing one person & burying two?”
- “Very well done – child actors particularly good & well handled.”
- “A sort of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, where Jekyll (eventually) wins.”
- “All’s well that ends well.”
- “Much more chilling than Witchfinder!”
- “Another nail in the coffin of 4 x 4s!”
- “I would not like to see this film again (but I suppose it was worth seeing for the lovely scenery) & would avoid Harry had he survived.”
- “Good in parts – like the curate’s egg!”
- “A strange little tale. Nice observation of personal relationships & family life.”
- “Bizarre film, nice music.”
- “Got a bit strange at the end.”
- “I have a much better dentist!”