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With a Friend Like Harry... (2000)

Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien (original title)
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Harry knew Michel in high school; they meet again by accident, Harry inserts himself in Michel's life... and things take a sinister turn.

Director:

Dominik Moll

Writers:

Dominik Moll (scenario), Gilles Marchand (scenario) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 7 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Thriller

A family man on vacation meets up with a mysterious person named Harry, who claims to have known him in high school.

Director: Adam Bernstein
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Laurent Lucas ... Michel
Sergi López ... Harry (as Sergi Lopez)
Mathilde Seigner ... Claire
Sophie Guillemin ... Prune (Plum)
Liliane Rovère ... Mother
Dominique Rozan Dominique Rozan ... Father
Michel Fau ... Eric
Victoire de Koster Victoire de Koster ... Jeanne
Laurie Caminata Laurie Caminata ... Sarah
Lorena Caminata Lorena Caminata ... Iris
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Who needs enemies?


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some violence and a scene of nudity | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Diaphana [France]

Country:

France

Language:

French | Spanish

Release Date:

15 June 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

With a Friend Like Harry... See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$29,495, 22 April 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,818,452, 29 July 2001
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Miramax Films released U.S. version in theaters. See more »

Quotes

[on how to deal with difficult parents]
Harry Ballestero: You have to overreact.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credit sequence, a straight-down aerial shot, the letters of the credits cast shadows on the ground (with realistic penumbras) as if they were actually suspended in mid-air. See more »

Connections

Edited into Making of 'Harry un ami qui vous veut du bien' (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Ramona
Written by L. Wolfe Gilbert (as L.W. Gilbert) and Mabel Wayne (as M. Wayne)
Performed by Dolores del Rio
Publishing 1927 by EMI Catalogue Partnership
By permission of Editions EMI Catalogue Partnership France
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Doctor Jekyll and mister Hyde in the French country...
9 April 2005 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

One of the first moments of this movie makes inevitably think of "Shining" (1980) by Stanley Kubrick and "Funny Games" (1997) by Michael Haneke: an aerial shot which follows a car on the highway. Inside it, a typical French family who goes on holiday in their country house hoping to find some peace. It's particularly true for the parents, Michel and his wife who seem to be all keyed up because of their restless children. On a rest area, Michel meets an old school friend: Harry who proposes Michel to come and spend a couple of days to his country house. The latter accepts. From the beginning, Harry appears as a charismatic and mysterious character. Who is he? Where does he come from? What does he want? We learn very few things about him or just vague facts. The director Dominik Voll preferred to leave high and dry Harry's origins and it's better this way because the spectator can imagine whatever he wants about him. Be that as it may, we can bring a beginning of answer to the third quoted question: Harry wishes Michel well and he's ready to do anything for this, even to kill...

After a six-year absence (his last movie was "intimacy" in 1994), Dominik Voll made a successful comeback with "With a Friend like Harry" (2000). He seduced both the critics and the public and won 4 French Oscars in 2001 including Best Actor for Sergi Lopez. It's funny to note down that the basic idea for his second feature-length film came to him from a holiday memory when, just like Michel he met an old school friend which he hadn't seen for years. This trivial detail inspired him to focus his movie on the theme of the double. Besides, the first apparition of the two main protagonists happens in front of a mirror. Harry can be considered the incarnation of Michel's repressed drives and buried desires. In a way, he's what Michel would like to be or to do (consciously or not). I think there are numerous examples in Voll's opus and I will retain the three following points: Harry enjoys a perfect sexual life (eating a raw egg after an orgasm is good for health!) and perhaps Michel would like to know something similar to this. Then, Harry kills Michel's parents and every time the latter invites them for lunch or dinner, he has to fetch them: his father can't drive for medical reasons. Perhaps, Michel has hidden death wishes about his parents. At last, by congratulating Michel about the writings he made in high school, Harry probably wakes in Michel hidden desires of writer. Roughly, Harry wants to help his friend to advance in life, no matter what the price is.

"With a friend like Harry" is Voll's second film in six years but his making is absolutely awesome. If the beginning of the movie turns out to be a little trite:how many times in cinema have we seen the trick of the helpful character invading a so far peaceful universe? But fortunately, once this moment passed, the rest makes forget this weakness. The movie adopts a slow rhythm without hastes and opts for the unexpected to play with the spectator's nerves. Dominik Voll weaves a more and more heavy even stifling atmosphere marked out by Michel's psychological changing who seems to become a little unrecognizable to his wife. Besides, she tells to Harry: "you've got a bad influence on Michel". This heavy atmosphere is reinforced by a precise and rigorous making which favors close-up shots and the length of quite numerous sequences. Overrall the director achieved a tour de force by mixing several cinema genres in a coherent story. What is close to comedy in the beginning of the story ends up turning to drama and thriller and the abrupt changes of tone follow on from each other with a diabolical logic. Moreover, Voll knows how to use black humor and certain moments give sometimes to the work an eccentric side.

Needless to say that the cast is largely equal to the story. Already remarked in the invigorating "Western" (1997) by Manuel Poirier (whose he is one of his favorite actors), Sergi Lopez finds the role of his life in Harry. It will certainly be hard for him to equal his performance in the future.

Highly recommended, "With a Friend like Harry" is a work that can be understood on several levels. It's a fascinating work and however we come out of the projection with a little uneasiness because of Michel's disturbing face. Harry's influence has altered him and he looks threatening as if he was going to commit something bad. As for Harry, in the domain of the pain in the neck characters, he is, in the long run, not exactly like Seraphin Lampion in "the adventures of Tintin"!


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