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2 items from 2004


Intimate Strangers

9 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Screened

Berlin International Film Festival

BERLIN -- Truffaut used to say Hitchcock filmed his murder scenes like love scenes and his love scenes like murder scenes. Patrice Leconte seems to have something like that in mind in his new film, "Intimate Strangers", a peculiar love story designed like a suspense mystery. From Pascal Esteve's moody and insistent musical score, sounding very much like Bernard Herrmann's work for Hitchcock, to cameraman Eduardo Serra's careful, almost geometric compositions, the film has the look of a suspense thriller. We expect a bloody knife or mangled corpse to turn up at any moment. Yet Leconte and co-writer Jerome Tonnerre have something else in mind.

Set for release soon in France, "Intimate Strangers" should perform well there, with Sandrine Bonnaire and Fabrice Luchini heading a fine cast. Leconte's movies are usually strong enough to make it to North America, and this should prove no exception, even if it's not equal to his most sublime films, such as "Ridicule", "Monsieur Hire" and last year's "The Man on the Train".

Leconte calls his film "a sentimental thriller," which is about right. A chance meeting, a case of mistaken identity, a woman in trouble and a jealous husband all fuel the thriller aspect. But what is really at stake are the emotional lives of two unlikely people, people who were never supposed to meet but do. They then fall into a relationship that deepens with each meeting and opens up new vistas for both. Dare we call it love?

Anna (Bonnaire) comes to a building to see a shrink. Because of slight dyslexia that causes her to get directions mixed up, she knocks on the door of tax attorney William Faber (Luchini). The mild-mannered taxman is initially too startled by her intimate confessions to correct her mistake. At her next appointment, he tries to level with her, and by her third visit, she has realized her error and angrily declares that his failure to reveal his true identity is tantamount to psychological rape.

Yet she returns, and soon the two cannot do without their weekly meetings. Gradually, William comes to wonder about this strange woman: Is she in danger? Does her husband truly exist? He gets an answer to the latter question when the husband, Marc Gilbert Melki), shows up at his office.

Anna in turn wonders about the tax consultant. He lives a life a little too neat and tidy, having taken over his father's business and seemingly never ventured far into the world. There is a bit of cat-and-mouse here, where each tries to establish a level of trust and confidence with the other.

The movie has other characters. The shrink (Michel Duchaussoy) down the hall, the one Anna was supposed to see, offers advice to the man who "poached" his client. William's longtime secretary (Helene Surgere) has her own ideas about what is going on behind her boss' closed door. Then there is Anna's husband, William's ex-girlfriend (Anne Brochet) and her new boyfriend (Laurent Gamelon), and we're not quite certain what role each will play in the story, which adds to the suspense.

Leconte uses a few interiors and even less exteriors to create the movie's own world, which is somewhat romanticized and somewhat sinister. This world is one in which the real danger lies in emotional intimacy and the degree to which one is willing to question one's life.

The film does get claustrophobic

it never quite achieves the balance between a two-character study and a larger world, as did "The Man on the Train". The film also could do with a bit more humor, most of which is supplied by the sagacious shrink. But the effort here is admirable and the ending satisfying if a little pat for such an unusual story.

INTIMATE STRANGERS

Les Films Alain Sarde/France 3 Cinema/Zoulous Films/Assise Production

Credits:

Director: Patrice Leconte

Screenwriters: Jerome Tonnerre, Patrice Leconte

Producer: Alain Sarde

Executive producer: Christine Gozlan

Director of photography: Eduardo Serra

Production designer: Ivan Maussion

Music: Pascal Esteve

Costume designer: Annie Perier-Bertaux

Editor: Joelle Hache

Cast:

William: Fabrice Luchini

Anna: Sandrine Bonnaire

Dr. Monnier: Michel Duchaussoy

Jeanne: Anne Brochet

Marc: Gilbert Melki

Luc: Laurent Gamelon

Mrs. Mulon: Helene Surgere

Running time -- 104 minutes

No MPAA rating »

Permalink | Report a problem


Intimate Strangers

9 February 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Screened

Berlin International Film Festival

BERLIN -- Truffaut used to say Hitchcock filmed his murder scenes like love scenes and his love scenes like murder scenes. Patrice Leconte seems to have something like that in mind in his new film, "Intimate Strangers", a peculiar love story designed like a suspense mystery. From Pascal Esteve's moody and insistent musical score, sounding very much like Bernard Herrmann's work for Hitchcock, to cameraman Eduardo Serra's careful, almost geometric compositions, the film has the look of a suspense thriller. We expect a bloody knife or mangled corpse to turn up at any moment. Yet Leconte and co-writer Jerome Tonnerre have something else in mind.

Set for release soon in France, "Intimate Strangers" should perform well there, with Sandrine Bonnaire and Fabrice Luchini heading a fine cast. Leconte's movies are usually strong enough to make it to North America, and this should prove no exception, even if it's not equal to his most sublime films, such as "Ridicule", "Monsieur Hire" and last year's "The Man on the Train".

Leconte calls his film "a sentimental thriller," which is about right. A chance meeting, a case of mistaken identity, a woman in trouble and a jealous husband all fuel the thriller aspect. But what is really at stake are the emotional lives of two unlikely people, people who were never supposed to meet but do. They then fall into a relationship that deepens with each meeting and opens up new vistas for both. Dare we call it love?

Anna (Bonnaire) comes to a building to see a shrink. Because of slight dyslexia that causes her to get directions mixed up, she knocks on the door of tax attorney William Faber (Luchini). The mild-mannered taxman is initially too startled by her intimate confessions to correct her mistake. At her next appointment, he tries to level with her, and by her third visit, she has realized her error and angrily declares that his failure to reveal his true identity is tantamount to psychological rape.

Yet she returns, and soon the two cannot do without their weekly meetings. Gradually, William comes to wonder about this strange woman: Is she in danger? Does her husband truly exist? He gets an answer to the latter question when the husband, Marc Gilbert Melki), shows up at his office.

Anna in turn wonders about the tax consultant. He lives a life a little too neat and tidy, having taken over his father's business and seemingly never ventured far into the world. There is a bit of cat-and-mouse here, where each tries to establish a level of trust and confidence with the other.

The movie has other characters. The shrink (Michel Duchaussoy) down the hall, the one Anna was supposed to see, offers advice to the man who "poached" his client. William's longtime secretary (Helene Surgere) has her own ideas about what is going on behind her boss' closed door. Then there is Anna's husband, William's ex-girlfriend (Anne Brochet) and her new boyfriend (Laurent Gamelon), and we're not quite certain what role each will play in the story, which adds to the suspense.

Leconte uses a few interiors and even less exteriors to create the movie's own world, which is somewhat romanticized and somewhat sinister. This world is one in which the real danger lies in emotional intimacy and the degree to which one is willing to question one's life.

The film does get claustrophobic

it never quite achieves the balance between a two-character study and a larger world, as did "The Man on the Train". The film also could do with a bit more humor, most of which is supplied by the sagacious shrink. But the effort here is admirable and the ending satisfying if a little pat for such an unusual story.

INTIMATE STRANGERS

Les Films Alain Sarde/France 3 Cinema/Zoulous Films/Assise Production

Credits:

Director: Patrice Leconte

Screenwriters: Jerome Tonnerre, Patrice Leconte

Producer: Alain Sarde

Executive producer: Christine Gozlan

Director of photography: Eduardo Serra

Production designer: Ivan Maussion

Music: Pascal Esteve

Costume designer: Annie Perier-Bertaux

Editor: Joelle Hache

Cast:

William: Fabrice Luchini

Anna: Sandrine Bonnaire

Dr. Monnier: Michel Duchaussoy

Jeanne: Anne Brochet

Marc: Gilbert Melki

Luc: Laurent Gamelon

Mrs. Mulon: Helene Surgere

Running time -- 104 minutes

No MPAA rating »

Permalink | Report a problem


2 items from 2004


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