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Michel, his wife Claire and their three little daughters Jeanne, Sarah and Iris are traveling to their cottage in Switzerland to spend summer vacation. When they stop the car, Michel goes to the toilet and a man stares at him. Soon the man introduces himself as Harold "Harry" Balestoro, who studied with Michel in high school and knows him very well. When Michel and his family go to their car, Harry parks his Mercedes Benz and introduces his fiancée Plum to the couple and invites themselves to travel to Michel's house for a drink. Later her recalls by heart a poem written by Michel and shows that he was obsessed for Michel. Harry is surprised that Michel does not write anymore and tells that he is wealthy since he has inherited his father's investments. Michel and Claire are middle-class and are still repairing their cottage by themselves. Harry and Plum stay for the night in the guest room and in the morning, Harry gives a 4x4 V6 Pajero to his new friends. They do not accept but ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
An engrossing French psychological thriller with jet black sense of humor, Director Dominik Moll has only made one other feature film, but looks very much like someone who has spent a lifetime fine tuning and constructing psychological thrillers. Moll's "With a Friend Like Harry" is a nervy, successful reworking of Hitchcockian themes and devices, with particular attention to the allure of the sociopath.
On a hot day in a highway gas station men's room, a man Michel (Laurent Lucas), doesn't recognize a stranger who says they went to school together. His name is Harry, played by Sergi López. He suggests they have a drink, so he and his girlfriend follow Michel and his family to their summer place. Michel is amazed when Harry quotes from memory a poem Michel wrote in school. Harry thinks Michel is a great writer, and he's distressed that Michel hasn't written in years. Harry stays awhile, and sets out to eliminate distractions that might keep Michel from writing. The first thing Harry does for Michel--he buys him a new car despite Michel demanding that he does not. What a guy! However, this extraordinary act of kindness sets off a chain of events, and suspicious things begin to happen. Michel picks up a pen and Harry is gratified, but he's not finished being Michel's self-appointed patron.
From the moment Harry is introduced to us, director Dominik Moll manages to saddle you up with an uncomfortable feeling. As the story slowly burns, it all becomes more and more unsettling. The devastating occurrences this family will endure will come from someone they've already invited into their comfort zone. And by the time they start realizing that, it's too late--and bad is already getting worse.
Moll flushes develops the characterizations of the family members and their daily interactions, and wisely keeping things simple. While you start to recognize these subtleties, it enhances the awareness that Harry's abnormal behavior is seeping into the lives of these very normal people. Even in scenes where Harry is not featured, you keep him in mind, as his presence permeates, and saturates the storyline.
Lòpez strikes the right note with his performance -- carefully balancing between overtly friendly to just plain crazy. At no point does he go shamelessly over the top, nor does the film really feature any excessive outbursts of violence. The mild brilliance of this film, lies with the question as to what Harry's motivation is, and what the outcome of it all will be. An intriguing, fully-engrossing psychological thriller that takes us deep into a world where answers aren't always provided. In fact, we are never sure where the plot is leading us. Mysterious, suspenseful, and a devilish sense of humor. With a friend like Harry, who needs family?
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