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|Index||42 reviews in total|
Solid and perfectly paced camera work and direction, players of exquisite talent and nuance, make this Simenon novel a powerful film . The winsomeness and cunning of Bonnaire, one of France's great actresses as the love object; the fanatic and unsettling calm conviction of the police detective played by Andre Wilms; the furtiveness, loneliness, and longing of the brilliant Michel Blanc; and the cowardliness and thugness of Thullier, a man made to play the thug, combine to make both a believable tale and a great metaphor for our need for "the other." The Brahms loop in the vital scenes of longing are a masterful touch. A work of great competence, sensitivity, and truth. What is essential in the novel but too subtly hinted at in the film, is anti-semitism only suggested by the revealing of M. Hire's original family name in questioning by the detective. A truly great film.
For a man who likes great cinematography, nice colors and a pretty female face, this film offers all of the above for me.
Director Patrice Leconte usually makes stylish movies and this is no exception. It's beautiful to view. So is Sandrine Bonnaire, the leading lady. I'll have to see what other films have her in them. There are numerous closeups of her in this movie. This French effort doesn't show much "skin," yet the film has an erotic appeal. That tells you something.
Michel Blanc, the male lead, plays a strange character but he's fascinating to watch, too.
To be honest, the film has its slow moments but it is mesmerizing at times, too. The story is interesting overall and aided by two surprise twists at the end.
I am perplexed and frustrated over why this film is not available on DVD on which this great photography could really be shown off.
Monsieur Hire is the perfect suspect. Nobody likes him. Conversations
die away when he passes by. Children play tricks on him. He sleeps very
little. He never uses the lights. He sits in the dark in his room. And
he likes to watch
So, naturally, when a young girl is found murdered,
Hire finds himself put under the microscope, both by the strange
detective who regularly humiliates him in the course of his
investigation and the girl he spies upon who suddenly confronts him,
with very unexpected results.
Patrice Leconte's film is one of those remarkable career turnarounds that defy expectations. Best known at the time for his unashamedly populist French comedies, Monsieur Hire is the equivalent of the director of Adam Sandler films suddenly having a stab at The Girl With the Pearl Earring and actually getting it right. His adaptation of a half-remembered Georges Simenon novel (literally: when he finally got the rights, no-one could find a copy of the novel to work from!) works both as a spellbinding piece of pure film-making and an intriguing drama about the difference between watching and comprehending. Hire may think he knows almost everything about his neighbour Alice because he has watched her so closely, but seeing and understanding are not always the same thing, as he himself reveals when he tells one of the whores he visits the story of a popular old lady who fed the pigeons breadcrumbs: because of her kindly face, people never realised that in fact she was poisoning them.
Above all, it's a very sensual film. Not in any erotic sense, although there is a charge when Hire finally allows himself to touch another human being. Rather this is a film about seeing and smelling, the senses through which we first form judgements but which still allow us to keep our distance and not just M. Hire himself. It's no accident that the film ends with everyone silently watching him, and with the camera pulling away from a figure who finally understands what really happened too late in a truly haunting image.
Sandrine Bonnaire does remarkably well in what could simply have been a cipher as the object of his attentions, pulling off the difficult scenes where she gets closer to Hire while still managing to remain a credible figure, but it's no slight on her to say that this is Michel Blanc's show. Lurking at the edge of the frame or isolated in the centre of the image, the balding, almost expressionless Blanc's performance is a masterclass in control. Not merely physical control, but resisting the desire to make Hire in any way likable or more accessible. There is no appeal to sentiment, no crack in the façade to let us in and recognise anything admirable or empathetic, no explanation or excuse for the way he is. As a character he remains strange and ill suited for the world of men and women. Even the POSSIBILITY of love does not free him from his shell. And it's that very inaccessibility that ultimately makes him such a tragic figure. Hire is as dead as the murder victim, who the detective pointedly notes will never be touched again: he just happens to still be walking around.
On the surface, the film is equally controlled Leconte and Patrick Dewolf's tight screenplay is spare and precise, but with enough room for director and actors to build on, while Ivan Maussion's unostentatious design and Denis Lenoir's restrained yet meticulous cinematography serve the characters perfectly. Even Michael Nyman's music rises above what was then his usual formulised mathematical masturbation to deliver something whose precisely formalised distance is absolutely right. Leconte's great use of the Scope frame is well preserved in Second Sight's sadly extras-free UK DVD, although the colour seems slightly richer than the theatrical print I saw a few years ago (although that could just have been colour fading). Definitely the most welcome DVD release of the year for me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
[WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS]
"I could have turned you in. I could have, you know," Alice tells Monsieur Hire, as she looks out from his apartment window from where he's spent months peeping into her bedroom.
"Yes, but you didn't," Hire points out.
Thus begins a spellbinding love affair.
Why doesn't Alice call the cops? Because, she says, Hire obviously is a nice person. Which surprises him, because all his neighbors view Hire as a creepy guy and are quite willing, much like the police, to believe he's responsible for the murder of a young woman in the neighborhood.
Patrice Leconte is a rare filmmaker. He's a master at crafting genuinely tense, intriguing moments out of mere subtleties. His films are so superbly character-driven without any of the artifice of many contemporary, or shall I say, Hollywood, films that we are drawn into their stories without realizing it.
In "Monsieur Hire," Leconte takes the story of a peeping tom and turns it into an unpretentious, gripping, sly romantic thriller. It initially reminded me of "The Cry of the Owl" (1987), but works on a much deeper, more human and satisfying level than Claude Chabrol's thriller.
Hire, brilliantly played by Michel Blanc, is a balding, lonely middle-aged introvert whose only sense of comfort comes from watching a beautiful young woman, Alice (a gorgeous Sandrine Bonnaire), through her bedroom window. But Alice finds herself strangely attracted to this recluse, though Leconte always keeps us wondering whether she has ulterior motives. After all, Hire certainly is not Alice's type. And is nothing like her fiancé, Emile.
In a mere 80 minutes or so, Leconte packs more suspense, intrigue and sensuality into his film than most two-hour thrillers. A scene involving Alice gently picking up tomatoes around Hire's feet and another at a boxing match are infinitely sexier than anything Paul Verhoeven, Adrian Lyne or countless other directors of "sexy thrillers" could have conjured up. And Leconte achieves this without any dialogue or even the slightest hint of nudity.
Elegant, smart, sophisticated and seductive, "Monsieur Hire" slowly creeps up on you and holds you in its web until its perfect conclusion. Then it haunts you for weeks.
I don't know whether only the French could make such a film. I know Hollywood never would. And American cinema is the worse for it.
"Monsieur Hire" is a compelling and deep character study which tells of a reclusive and peculiarly enigmatic and antisocial man, the title character, who is a suspect in a murder investigation and who obsessively watches a beautiful young woman from across his apartment courtyard. A methodically plodding, plaintive, and somber film-making masterwork, "M. Hire" offers none of the big budget bennies and cheap tinsel and titillation of the usual Hollywood fare. Likely to be a love it or hate it flick, "M. Hire" should appeal most to Europic devotees and those into psychodramas and character studies. (B+)
If you've ever been in a love triangle, or were kind to someone who loved you but you didn't really love them in return, you'll appreciate the sad dance of the three main characters in this film. A young man and woman are lovers, and she is watched by her neighbor, the unpopular Mr. Hire, black sheep of a Paris near-suburban nabe. They begin a friendship, and even a relationship of sorts, while a cop tries to pin the murder of a young local girl, also an odd duck, on Mr. Hire. Not wanting to spoil the story for you, I won't say more, except to say that the slow parts are tolerable if you know in advance that this is a very thoughtful, haunting movie and you've got to be a little patient for the wonderful reward, which comes right at the end. Very pretty music, beautiful colors and details, lots of sad little moments that remind you of the loneliness of daily life. I wouldn't actually recommend this to most people. I don't think they'd tolerate the lack of Hollywood flash. If you're smart, you'll watch it though. I got it on DVD at a public library and wish I could see it on a big screen, though the DVD images are very lovely.
Having read some of the negative reviews regarding this film, I think
the first thing to make clear here is that there is no point in
watching this film if your idea of a perfect movie is Jurassic Park or
The Da Vinci Code.
This is a film that focuses not on the story itself, but more on the characters and the emotions that reside within them. The above mentioned films take an idea for a story (a dinosaur filled wildlife park or a mysterious religious secret) and then devise a plot which is by far and away beyond what would ever happen in the real world.
In contrast, Monsieur Hire takes a story in which very little happens: A man is suspected of a murder. The man is a reclusive misfit, devoid of charm or humour, but he harbours a love for a woman he has never even met: a woman he knows only through seeing her from his apartment window. Unlike the aforementioned films, the plot, from beginning to end, can be summarised within just a few sentences. But it is what is behind the plot which makes this movie incredible. It is the notion of love which drives the film.
The acting and directing show passion that is more intense and sexual than anything I have seen, yet it does so without even a hint of what you would expect from a film described as "intense" and "sexual". The intensity of the love shown by the protagonist is beyond anything that one would have seen before, and yet it is far from the purity that one would normally associate with such an emotion. Indeed, it is dark and tense, and due to the questionable character of its object, one is left in turmoil as to whether this love is to be admired, pitied or instead viewed as just desserts for a man of his nature.
Those who have scored this low on the basis that the characters do not conduct themselves in a "believable way" confound me. The whole point of a film is that it takes you away from the everyday scenario. Most movies show you fairly ordinary people involved in extraordinary stories. This one shows you extraordinary characters involved in a story which (in itself) is fairly ordinary. To score this low based on its plot is to criticise Opera for its storyline. The whole point of the opera is its music, and the whole point of this film is its incredible portrayal of emotion. Brilliantly acted, brilliantly directed, and this will haunt you for some time.
If you need your films to be Hollywood factory typecasts then don't watch this. You won't enjoy it. Go and rent out The Expendibles, and leave Monsieur Hire to those who appreciate art when they see it. I'm sorry if that sounds pretentious. I enjoy a cheesy Hollywood flick as much as the next person, but it's sad that there are people who can't see beyond Stephen Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis.
One of my all time favourite French films. It glows with provocations and peril. It rides the slim line between voyeurism and beauty and just manages to entice the viewer into the world of a lonely man. Do not listen to me, go and watch it.
This movie is without a doubt, one of the best and most depressing movies that I've seen in a long time. With minimal expense a masterpiece was made in this film. The actors embodied both sensuality and callousness within the confines of a single scene. Not sinking to a trashy voyeur level, this movie proves that nudity is not necessary for sexuality, but at the same time displays one of life's little known truths. We all need to love and be loved.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In France, the lonely and reclusive tailor Mr. Hire (Michel Blanc) is
an antisocial middle-age man that does not like people. When the young
Pierrette is found murdered in his neighborhood, Mr. Hire becomes the
prime suspect of the detective (André Wilms) assigned to investigate
the case. Mr. Hire usually stalks his neighbor Alice (Sandrine
Bonnaire) from his window during the night and sees her encounters with
her boyfriend Emile (Luc Thuillier). When Alice accidentally sees Mr.
Hire, she surprisingly visits him and he discloses that he is in love
with her. Further, he tells that he had witnessed Emile killing
Pierrette, but he had not told the police since she would be considered
accomplice of the murder. Mr. Hire invites Alice to travel with him to
Lausanne, Switzerland, and leave Emile behind.
This is the second time that I watch "Monsieur Hire", released in Brasil on VHS by Abril Video in the 90's, and it is a gloomy little gem of Patrice Leconte. The slow pace gives a perfect development of the personality of the lead character in a awesome performance of Michel Blanc. Sandrine Bonnaire has also a top-notch performance in the role of a manipulative woman. The conclusion is also magnificent with the explanation of the omission of Mr. Hire. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Um Homem Meio Esquisito" ("A Quite Weird Man")
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