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Superb, absorbing psychological dramedy
anhedonia12 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers

What's it about French auteur Patrice Leconte's films? They're essentially talk-fests. Yet, whether he's delving into the life of a reclusive peeping tom, enjoying games of wit at court at Versailles or celebrating a middle-aged man's sensual obsession with getting haircuts from women, Leconte turns simple stories into unforgettable films.

In "Intimate Strangers," Leconte reunites with actress Sandrine Bonnaire and works from a script by Jérôme Tonnerre, who penned the exquisite love story, "Un coeur en hiver" (1992).

Most filmmakers would have saved the twist about Anna (Bonnaire), an attractive woman, finding out the man she believed was a shrink actually is a tax lawyer, William Faber (Fabrice Luchini). But not Leconte. He gives it to us early and uses then that tidbit to make this a mesmerizing film. As Anna returns to William to unload her problems, Bonnaire and Luchini slowly build a thoroughly absorbing intimacy.

Anna reminded me of an older version of Alice, the young woman strangely fascinated by her peeper in Leconte's brilliant, "Monsieur Hire" (1989). So, I suppose, it's fitting that Bonnaire played both women. Just as odd Mr. Hire captivated Alice, Anna finds William intriguing.

Leconte and Tonnerre also toss in a goodly amount of humor. William seeks counsel about Anna from the very man she mistook him for - Dr. Monnier (Michel Duchaussoy), who looks like a stouter John Huston; and William also remains tangled with his ex, Jeanne (Anne Brochet), who hasn't quite gotten over the breakup despite finding a new lover.

Leconte's genius is that he constantly keeps us guessing. Everything may not be quite as it seems in this film. Is someone being conned? We get snippets about Anna from others, including her husband Marc (Gilbert Melki), but they might not be truthful, either.

"Love is an incurable sickness," Marc tells William. That's the crux of this story. William would never tell Anna how enraptured he is by her, but she's too smart not to know this and subtly toys with him. When we first see Anna, she's a drably dressed, a bit nervy. As she visits more often, her confidence grows, her dresses more revealing. In one lovely moment, Leconte tantalizes us with a sly look at her cleavage. Meanwhile, William, who lives and works in the apartment where he was born and now runs his dad's business, also changes, less obviously, but more importantly. He breaks out in rare spontaneity and removes his tie.

This is crafty, witty, sophisticated storytelling, using the vagaries of marriage to create a superbly written psychological drama with deft touches of humor. Leconte revels in subtleties. Nothing's overwrought about his film. There's no sex, but Bonnaire and Luchini make their relationship sexy and deeply romantic. Contrast this with the American film, "The Door in the Floor," which also dealt with marital woes. It was labored and lacked focus, humor and emotional heft; in "Intimate Strangers," Leconte makes William and Anna's scenes more gripping than many suspense yarns.

As I wrote in my review of "Monsieur Hire," I don't know whether only the French are capable of making such movies. But I am glad they do. Because "Intimate Strangers" is one of those films that made me ecstatic to be a cineaste.
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A strange relationship
michelerealini3 October 2005
A woman with marriage problems mistakes a financial adviser for a psychiatrist. She tells him all the secrets of her life, whereas the man has not the strength to tell he's not the person she needs to talk to...

"Confidences trop intimes" is a brilliant film directed by Patrice Leconte, with two big French actors -Fabrice Luchini and Sandrine Bonnaire. The film is an intimate comedy, action is made by good dialogs. There's no boredom at all.

It's an interesting movie which shows a strange relationship growing -maybe the woman understands, later, that she has not found the right person. But she's lonely and needs to talk, at the same time the financial adviser is another lonely person who needs someone who catches him out of a boring life. They have nothing in common, but they are made for each other.

The film has a strong screenplay and is supported by the two leading actors -the scenes are almost always between them. The two characters are very deep, the intensity of their words and of their expression doesn't make you feel that the picture misses something. Because everything it's here. The film is able to picture a situation of everyday life, without developing a foreseen love story... Will the two live a real love relationship? We don't know exactly, there's the same ambiguousness which often dominate the relation between a man and a woman...

A very good movie.
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clever and brilliant, a light hearted exploration of the depths
Fiona-3930 July 2004
This is a very clever film with a lot to say about life, death, sex, human relationships, human fragility and loneliness - but it does it all with a wonderfully light hearted touch. Luchini dancing just has to be one of the best scenes - eat your heart out Hugh Grant!! Bonnaire is quite wonderful as Anne, literally blossoming before our eyes, her hair lightening, her skin glowing, her dress changing, becoming lighter and brighter. It seems her accidental psychiatrist does help her. Of course, we never know the full truth - can we believe everything she says - and the device of the windows, so key to the film's turning point, is Hitchcockian in the extreme - vision as deception. The most wonderful insight of this film, though, is that paying taxes and dealing with deep disturbing psychological issues have similar concerns - what do you declare and what do you try desperately to hide? And of course, both actions are undertaken in the name of individuals integrating themselves into society. Another excellent film from Leconte. Just because it is so polished and masterful story telling doesn't mean that it doesn't address other issues that a director such as Rohmer would tackle.
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It's all about the relationship
=G=31 December 2004
In "Intimate Strangers", a beautiful woman wanders into the office of a meek and unassuming tax consultant mistaking it for a psychiatrist's office. When the tax man realizes the error, the woman has already engaged him and wishes to continue their sessions. This relatively uneventful and mostly conversational drama is all about the symbiotic relationship which follows from the chance encounter and how it changes the lives of the pair of protagonists. The film features finely nuanced performances and penetrating insights into the relationship and little more. Don't expect any extremes of emotion, sex, nudity, or other titillaters as it's all about the interpersonal relationship; no more, no less. Excellent for what it is, "Intimate Strangers" will appeal most to mature audiences into French people flicks. (B)
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Highly recommend
topatate1624 September 2004
I actually went to my local "art house" movie theater to see "Napoleon Dynamite." I walked out of that movie after the first 10 minutes and walked into the movie playing in the room next to it, which happened to be "Intimate Strangers." I had no idea what this movie was about - in fact, had never heard of it but anything had to be better than "Napoleon Dynamite." What a pleasant surprise. Even though I missed the very beginning of the film, I figured out that Anna had a reversal problem and was visiting the wrong professional.

This movie explores a relationship of the mind, only hinting at the sexual. How refreshing!

This movie was entrancing. I fell in love with all of the characters. Who could not fall in love with Anna? How many times has a stranger walked into your life and you've found yourself captivated? Once - maybe twice? Perhaps I can ask that question since I met my husband due to circumstances that allowed our paths to cross (and any change in the smallest decision would have meant we would never have met) and within three days, we were planning a wedding. That was 20 years ago.

So no wonder I love this movie!
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Intimate Strangers: Sensual, Hitchcock-ian Mystery...
coffee_N_cigz15 April 2005
Patrice Leconte has long been one of my favourite directors...his predominate theme is simple...the intimate connection between two lonely strangers; evident in his previous classics....GIRL ON THE BRIDGE (1999) & MAN ON THE TRAIN (2002)...With INTIMATE STRANGERS, his characters meet by mistake...Anna (Bonnaire) is a beautiful, mysterious woman who has suddenly walked through the door of William's (Luchini) office in need of his professional counsel...however, she has mistaken his office for her psychiatrist's & has mistaken William to be a shrink...

INTIMATE STRANGERS is an elegant has the feel & pace of an old noir film of the past where an equally beautiful & mysterious woman walks suddenly into the office of a private eye on some dark, stormy night...Leconte deals with the mind of a woman...revealing her deepest thoughts & desires...teasing us with every appointment between the two strangers...Bonnaire is intense & uninhabited as the distraught Anna & Luchini is the perfect compliment to keep the mode & atmosphere light when it needs to be...

Overall: Gorgeous looking film; camera work is almost excellent, shots over the shoulder seem almost if we are eavesdropping or tailing the characters....definitely one of the best Leconte films & one of the best of '04...
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Intriguing, minimalist, and yet uplifting
PAolo-1011 September 2004
It is sometimes difficult to walk the fine line between comedy and banality, as well as hiding all the wire and papier mâché that form the construct known as thriller. "Confidences trop intimes" cunningly avoids the traps of both genres by simply shaking the constructs off, layer by layer.

The movie belongs to a genre, "comédie dramatique" ("dromedy"?) which usually in US movies is reserved for romance "chick flicks". Yet these intimate strangers bring quite a bit more to the screen. It's a pleasant relief to see them saying so much with so little, avoiding those deep memorable lines that are so out of place in the mouth of the common people movies of these kind are supposed to represent.

It's by juxtaposition that Leconte achieves the best effect, by not saying too much and underplaying it, always. In one memorable scene the lonely célibataire glances at the stages of life through his window. Through the glass of the opposite building he sees passion, argument and old age as the seemingly inevitable stages of life. His life seems codified, chosen by others and kept and controlled, in the good and in the bad: add the secret ingredient, an excellent Sandrine Bonnaire, and stir.

The film amusingly deconstructs the myth of psychoanalysis, and thanks to the great empathy of the Luchini character, succeeds in expressing the inexpressible, the desire, the longing sometimes solitary and hopeless. 9/10!
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An interesting trip to the doctor
wspears31 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I think Patrice Leconte is one of the more reliably interesting directors working today. His films have intelligent characters who can usually be counted on to examine their lives and talk about what they are doing and feeling.

Intimate Strangers is, unfortunately, one of his weaker films, which means that it is still worth seeing, but it may not leave much of an impression with you, like some of his other films, such as Ridicule.

The problem is that, for most of the film, only one of the characters, Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire) is doing much examining. The other main character, William (Fabrice Luchini), is all wound up in a ball of repression. He doesn't seem able to get in touch with his feelings, much less be able to express them. After about two thirds of the way through the movie, this character flaw starts to wear the viewer down.

***Possible Spoilers***

Anna is a prospective psychiatric patient, who inadvertently goes into the wrong office and ends up unknowingly confessing to a tax accountant. The tax accountant, William, who blinks and stares in amazement at Anna as she tells him her troubles, remains, for the most part, silent--especially about who he really is, and what his profession is.

This sounds amusing, and in part it is, but the problem is that, as William is written, he is too much of "one note". He's repressed, and unable to express himself, even when it becomes obvious to him and us that he has grown fond of Anna.

In theme, the movie reminds me of another French film of a few years ago, Un coeur en hiver, by Claude Sautet. That was a much better film, I think, because it explored the conflict (inner and outer) of a repressed man who is being pursued by an attractive woman (Emmanuelle Beart, in his case). It was a much sadder and more disturbing film than Intimate Strangers, but I think that is what makes it a better film. Unlike Sautet, Leconte can't seem to make up his mind whether to make his film an exploration of loneliness or a whimsical farce on repression. And in the end it becomes neither.

But it would be unfair to leave the impression that the film is not worth seeing. First, there is the acting. Fabrice Luchini does a wonderful job of portraying William's ever changing states of sorrow, sweetness, and concern--and often portraying the different states only with his eyes. And Sandrine Bonnaire is, as she has always been in anything I have ever seen her in, fascinating to watch. She portrays intelligence, mixed with an air of danger, better than just about any other actress I can think of. There is a real joy watching these two actors play off one another, and to try to figure out what is going on underneath the artiface of behavior.

And second, the supporting characters are very well drawn. Some are funny, like the "real" psychiatrist down the hall from William's office, who appears to be as much a mercenary as he does a healer. And William's secretary, who is just as good at showing what she is feeling by her facial expression, as William is good at hiding what he is feeling. And other characters,like William's ex-lover,are intriguing. She obviously knows William, and we suspect that part of what irritates us about him, after watching him for about an hour, is what has driven her away after what appears to have been years of association. Late in the movie, she ends up expressing the exasperation that many of us in the audience are feeling, when she says, "Either dump her, or hump her". Shockingly well put, I thought.

If you like "French" films, go see it.
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A case of mistaken identity crisis
livewire-63 October 2004
The gimmick in "Intimate Strangers" is that a young woman, Anna Delambre (Sandrine Bonnaire), mistakenly enters the office of a tax consultant, William Faber (Fabrice Luchini), instead of a psychoanalyst, and tells him her most intimate secrets. The question then arises: Did she make an honest mistake, or is the whole thing a setup? Which of the two is the doctor, and which is the patient? Is she telling the truth, or is she a pathological liar? And why does he maintain the illusion instead of calling her bluff?

"Intimate Strangers" works well as a psychological thriller, an elaborate cat-and-mouse game. But it is also a meditation on loneliness and the lengths to which we are willing to go to overcome it ... or not. In other words, do we allow ourselves to be intimate with each other, or do we remain strangers walled in our fortresses of solitude?

Fabrice Luchini's character epitomizes the latter type of person. He leads a solitary and uneventful life, is obsessive-compulsively neat (he uses shoe trees, for heaven's sake), is unable to keep his on-and-off girlfriend happy, and voyeuristically observes the quiet joys and turbulent passions of his neighbors across the way. (Shades of "Rear Window".) Other minor characters exhibit similar tics: his secretary admits to watching rubbish on television while gorging herself on potato chips, and the doorkeeper of the office building spends all her time watching an idiotic soap opera.

Sandrine Bonnaire is, as always, a lovely, delicate vision. She succeeds in conveying the mystery and intrigue of her character, and yet makes Anna wholly believable.

Unfortunately, Fabrice Luchini does not lend the same degree of realism and reality to William. He is too stereotypically anal-retentive and full of hangups, and we never see William as more than two-dimensional. He remains basically the same, unchanged, even by the closing credits. In short, we never get to know him intimately. He begins and ends the film as simply strange.
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An Original Affecting Romantic Comedy Featuring an All-Too-Human Tax Lawyer!
lawprof26 July 2004
"Intimate Strangers" brings to the screen an off-beat, original relationships comedy (with real drama too). Fabrice Luchini is Parisian tax lawyer William Faber who lives and works in the apartment he grew up in. His dad was a tax attorney and here the audit didn't fall far from the tree. He's not unhappy, his practice is flourishing, but inspired he's not either.

Almost falling into his office/pad is Anna Delambre, the sharp and beguiling actress, Sandrine Bonnaire. Anna has an ADD history with spatial disorientation deficit so she messes up a simple direction to the therapist's office where she's scheduled for an initial appointment. Instead of the shrink's domain she enters Faber's den and, unaware of her mistake, begins telling a tale of marital discord to the initially unaware counsel who thinks he has a new law client.

It doesn't take long for Faber to realize there's a mistake but he's become intrigued by her and so he schedules a second "therapy" consultation. Faber is sorting through (perhaps without full insight) his feelings about the recent breakup with his live-in girlfriend, Jeanne, Anne Bouchet. Anne is hooked up with a stereotyped muscle man (meaning a harmless jerk) but the two still spend time together including "off the cuff" sex. Bouchet is sympathetically real and touching, in a quiet way, as a smart woman who may not be as sure of what she wants as she claims.

William and Anne continue meeting regularly at his office even after the latter discovers her mistake. Initial anger melts away and a platonic but increasingly intertwined relationship develops to the consternation and barely concealed exasperation of Faber's matronly secretary, Madame Mulon, Mulon, beautifully acted by Helene Surgere, was Faber's dad's secretary and she came with the office. Technophiles will get a kick out of watching her work with a twentieth century electric document production device.

The dark side is Anna's lying to her supposedly impotent hubby about her simmering affair which the guy assumes, with the aid of a private investigator, is Faber. Anna is trying to get her no longer enraptured-with-her spouse back without first considering if that's really the best thing for her.

Slightly plain at the beginning of "Intimate Strangers," Anna morphs into a striking lady as she becomes more confident about handling her life's issues.

Veteran director and acclaimed French auteur Patrice Leconte has made the most of a film that largely centers on intense conversations in small places. The ultimate resolution is no less believable for its predictability.

A good evening at an art cinema.

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An honest story that could be a chapter out of real life
Thomas_S25 January 2007
No special effects, no computer animation, no supernatural forces, no gloss, no predictability.

Real life! There is nothing in the story that could not have happened somewhere some time. Told with beauty, humour, understatement, feelings, sensitivity. Leaving you time to think instead of throwing one visual effect after another at you. There is time for detail. Time for silence. Time for emotions. But you are never bored.

The story is simple, yet you are grabbed by it and led into its mystery.

The atmosphere marvellously represents real life in France at the time the film was made. No shining up. No simplification. This is real France. Sandrine Bonnaire and Fabrice Luchini are very convincing in their roles. The behaviour of the secretary is incredibly real.

This is French cinema near its best.
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Beautifully nuanced
paulnewman200118 April 2005
When a beautiful young woman mistakenly enters the office of a grey, quiet tax expert and, mistaking him for a therapist, shares her marital problems, she inadvertently sparks an unlikely, bittersweet friendship between them.

Even when the truth comes out, Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire) and William (Fabrice Luchini) continue to see each other, she coming to rely on his non-judgemental ear and he slowly becoming spellbound by her.

Patrice Leconte conjures up some of the sad, poignant atmosphere of Monsieur Hire but frames within it a much more optimistic story while eliciting two beautifully nuanced performances from his leads.
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secrets beyond the door
dbdumonteil20 August 2007
Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire) has an appointment with her analyst, doctor Monnier (Michel Duchaussoy) to tell him her sentimental problems. But because of a little talky concierge and dimly lit, somewhat eerie corridors, she lands in William Faber's office (Fabrice Lucchini) who is a financial adviser. Expect the unexpected at least for a short time. Rather than telling her that he's not the right man to talk to, he listens to her very carefully and sets up a second appointment with her. The following week, he reveals her the truth but agrees to see her as many times as she wants to. Anna accepts his offer and these two idiosyncratic characters strike up an ambiguous relationship which will partly unveil their respective personalities, at least for William.

"Confidences Trop Intimes" is the successor of a peak in Patrice Leconte's eclectic filmography, "l'Homme Du Train" (2002) and if it doesn't exactly match the greatness of this film, it nonetheless remains a true winner which encompasses everything that makes Patrice Leconte a worthwhile filmmaker. First with this original starting point: a woman who was badly directed in a building winds up in an office belonging to a character who is a total stranger to her. But as doctor Monnier says: "there isn't a big difference between a shrink and a financial adviser: they have to define and solve their customers' problems. The difference is that to a financial adviser's his problems are bare while to an analyst's they're hidden".

Ambiguity is one of the key words to describe the relationships between William and Anna. Is Anna really in bad terms with her eccentric husband (stout Gilbert Melki)? Doesn't she try to manipulate her partner? Isn't she a little crazy? They're exciting questions that call upon the viewer's imagination. As for William, one realizes that the sort of therapy that links the two characters is mainly destined to him. He's probably THE main character of the whole film. At first, he seems strong but bit by bit he proves that he's a fragile character who yearns to change his life. His unexpected meeting with Anna gives him this opportunity and makes him elated for a while (see the delightful sequence when he dances to "in the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett). But then his real personality appears: he's a rather vulnerable man who has trouble with women and perhaps that's why his wedding with his former wife (Anne Brochet) went unravel. Besides she tells him that he didn't make the first move to meet her.

Leconte is well served by his duo of actors and it's a real surprise to discover and appreciate Fabrice Lucchini in an introverted man whereas he is usually typecast in extrovert roles. Sandrine Bonnaire makes an ideal partner. One should also hail the filmmaker for having discerningly chosen the scenery of this idiosyncratic in camera. Dimly lit corridors and rooms are deftly incorporated to the plot and give a sultry sensation to the ambiguous relationship between William and Anne, a strong point that was tapped fifteen years ago in "Monsieur Hire" (1989) when Michel Blanc was alone in his cramped flat. Sandrine Bonnaire was then her partner. So, when the camera goes out into the open air, the interest depletes a little in spite of good moments. While I'm writing about this shortcoming, I could also regret a misunderstanding too quickly solved (the second time when William and Anna meet again, he tells her that he's not the right person) and mention a too much cozy end.

But overall, when you have a strongly built story which has a lot of space for surprises and the development of its characters and a lot of food for thought, you can skip without problems conspicuous faults and leave the projection with a big smile on your face. Once again Leconte filled me with joy. Recommended to his aficionados.

NB: the film was turned into a play three years later.
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Intimate confidences
jotix1004 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This is basically a two character movie. It feels a bit theatrical in that it takes place in one set, with only a few scenes outside of the office where the two main characters meet.

Spoilers herein.

Patrice Leconte has created a film that strikes us as a mystery. The screen play by Jerome Tonerre is witty, sophisticated and light. It's easy to see how the writer and the director conspired to bring these two different persons to meet and share their intimate confidences with us, who are hypnotized by the proceedings.

Anna, has an attention disorder and gets easily confused with the directions the building porter gives her as to where to go. Instead she enters the office of William, who is not the person she is supposed to meet, at all.

William is a man who is bored with his lot in life. When Anna comes into his office, he awakes from his loneliness. We can't even imagine what he and his former wife, Jeanne, had in common. He is a loner who feels right at home listening to his old records (he still hasn't discovered CDs). At one point we see a scene in which William is listening to a popular dance song and he breaks into his own interpretation of it in front of a mirror; he shows that deep down inside of him, there's a man that is alive.

At one point in the film William goes to see his neighbor, the real analyst, that Anna has confused him with, trying to make sense on what is going on. Is he being analyzed by Dr. Monnier? Mr. Leconte is constantly sending us in different directions; he wants us to look at different aspects of the situation and perhaps wants to confuse us along the way.

Anna talks to William about the things in her mind. She lies when she tells him about the 'accident' she had caused to her husband, when in reality nothing like that ever happened. Marc turns out to be a young man who senses he is losing Anna to William. He stages the reunion with Anna in the hotel across the street from William to show him he is really alive and can perform well in bed!

Sandrine Bonnaire as Anna, has never been used as effectively as she is in this movie. She is an actress that is difficult to place, but once she takes on a role, she is that person. Fabrice Luchini has worked with M. Leconte before. He has a face that blends in with all his characters. As William, he achieves perfection in this film.
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It's never too late to follow your star.
lastliberal30 September 2009
A stranger walks into your life and you find yourself totally captivated. In the hands of Patrice Leconte this is something worth watching.

It is the fourth film of his that I have seen. I watched it mainly for Sandrine Bonnaire, who captivates me as much as she captivated William (Fabrice Luchini).

He is an accountant, and she walked into his office by mistake thinking he was a psychiatrist. Even after they admitted they both knew the truth, she kept coming and he kept waiting for her, even shuffling his real clients out the door.

A fascinating exchange, full of surprises, and well worth watching again.
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Only in France!
Red-12528 August 2004
Confidences trop intimes [Intimate Strangers] (2004), directed by Patrice Leconte, is a French film through and through.

Sandrine Bonnaire, as Anna, is an unhappily married woman seeking a therapist. Fabrice Luchini as William,

is a marginally unhappy tax lawyer, seeking something meaningful outside of his work. Anne Brochet, as Jeanne, is William's former lover.

Anna walks into William's office because she thinks he's a psychoanalyst. There's certainly some sort of chemistry there, although probably neither one can explain or define it. Jeanne has left William, but there's chemistry between them as well.

The movie takes a long, slow look at the unfolding of these relationships. There's much talk about sex, although no actual sexual activity is portrayed.

Definitely a French film--sophisticated, witty, and elegant. The film calls for the female protagonists to be not just beautiful, but intelligent and worldly. They dress in the classic French style--understated and fashionable.

This isn't a great or classic film, but it's worth finding just to watch Sandrine Bonnaire and Fabrice Luchini acting together. See it!
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This is a strangely Intimate Film.
dhaufrect-118 March 2005
"Intimate Strangers" is a very well done cinema. In keeping with the title, it is a strange and intimate film. Sandrine Bonnaire plays Anna. She is very seductive and encounters a tax attorney who is mistaken for the psychoanalyst, William, whose practice is next door. Fabrice Luchini plays the tax attorney who is strangely silent during his encounter with this distraught woman. In fact, he is very interested in listening to her personal and sometimes lurid story. The actual psychiatrist, Dr. Monnier, is played well by Michel Duchaussoy. Indeed, Duchaussoy becomes the temporary analyst for Luchini's character. This film is now on DVD. It is one of the best foreign films I have seen. The concept belongs to the writer. The humor is beyond description. Don't let this one slip by. It is a must for serious movie viewers.
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Odd little film that never really comes to anything
MagicStarfire9 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers

4 stars out of 10.

That is, this review would contain spoilers if the film had any plot, and if anything had ever happened in the film.

This French film intriguingly teases us, but it never really comes to anything.

It begins with an interesting premise, a somewhat attractive woman has an appointment with a psychiatrist, but she mistakenly goes to the office door of a tax attorney who is in the same building.

Once there, she begins to tell him of her marital woes, and at first he doesn't realize the mistake she has made, since he frequently hears personal tales from his clients that are similar to hers.

Eventually the truth comes out, but she continues to come and see him, and they continue to talk, again and again and again and again.

Then finally, when we are at least halfway into the film, her husband, Marc, shows up at the attorney's office. This confrontation doesn't come to anything and neither does the one or two others that occur between the tax attorney and the husband.

Apparently, a deeply troubled person can confide to a tax attorney and get just as much help as they would if they went to a qualified psychologist, at least if we are to judge from this film.

Finally we learn that the somewhat prim and proper tax attorney is in love with Anna, but again it comes to nothing. He never tells her he is in love with her, and no intimacy or anything even remotely romantic or sexual ever occurs between the two of them.

They break off their "therapy-type" sessions for awhile, but by the end of the film they have resumed them.
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Talk, talk, talk
Enid-32 July 2005
No I did not find this film sexy, nor did it lead me to any great psychological or philosophical insights. It was what we used to say about unsatisfactory dates when I was an adolescent, "NATO" - No Action, Talk Only. I just kept twitching, wishing the bloody thing would END already. It was just a lot of endless blither, and, as such, effectively numbed any concern I might have had for the characters, rather than cause any empathy with them.

One additional problem I had with the print I saw was that the voices and lip motions were poorly synchronized - almost as if it had been badly dubbed into Franch from another language, which, considering that all the principal actors were born in France, probably was not the case. Perhaps other prints were better.

Niystill, as one critic said about O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh" "It boreth, me snoreth, me thinketh it stinketh.".
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jonnyss9 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILER ALERT. i went with 3 friends and we all loved the movie. first of all, i found the first hour of the movie hilarious. i am a psychiatrist, and i found the conversations very believable. i have had a patient sit in my chair and felt the bewilderment faber shows because i too wanted to affirm, not undercut, the patient's growing assertiveness. anna tells faber that their openness with each other has helped her. faber is awkward - my friend called his look "deer-in-the-headlights" - but genuinely cares. faber's openness and good will is contrasted with the real psychiatrist up the hall. not only is the psychiatrist mercenary, he is also into showing off and into pathologizing. when he has the (mistaken) hunch that anna might be fooling faber, he is filled with glee at his skill, not with regret at her possible suffering.

there many more allusions to therapy. the concierge is watching a film about an affair between a priest and a parishioner - alluding to the budding forbidden romance between the "patient" and "therapist." both anna and faber try to empower the other: faber encourages anna to stand up to her bossy husband (granted, he has mixed motives); anna encourages faber to loosen up (lose the tie) and to get out of the apartment he grew up in and see the world (the suitcase gift). in the theme of mutual help and mutual openness, the film reminded me of "good will hunting" and of "blue."

why doesn't she pursue him right away when she leaves her husband? because he only becomes worthy of her (romantically) once he moves out into the world and becomes assertive enough to find her.

the film shows both coming alive. not only does she go from drab to lovely, he begins to dance to Wilson pickett (here i was reminded of napoleon dynamite)
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A little bit taxing
fanbaz-549-87220919 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The plot is from farce. Old as the hills. Mistaken identity. It is the stuff of many a great comedy but this film is not funny. It is as dull as only the French can make dull films. Words. Words. And more words. In short, an unhappy married woman looking for her new shrink walks into the tax office next door. Yep. That's the hook. The guy that plays the taxman who is thought to be a shrink has got a couple of expressions. Big eyes, and even bigger eyes. Shocked and surprised eyes. But he doesn't have much else. An old office and hard to believe, not a computer in sight. The leading lady smokes a lot and tells him all her rude secrets. Wow! Light the fuse. Fun! Er... no. This is France. No fun. Just lots of terrible corny clichés like at the end when the dim witted woman flicks her lighter to show the flame of love is still there. I won't go on. This film is garbage and I only give it any stars at all for the idea not embraced.
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An unusual love story, nicely realized
DeeNine-218 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)

This is the most nuanced of Patrice Leconte's films that I have seen. Everything is carefully constructed at a measured pace with just enough revelation as we go along, but no more, so that we can follow the plot's development easily. The film is cut as close as a barber's shave and is as neat as a pin.

Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire), who is a bit of a tease, finds herself in what she thinks is a shrink's office. (There's a magazine on the desk whose title is partially obscured so that only the word "analyst" appears to her eyes, thereby confirming her expectations.) Behind the desk however is William Faber (Fabrice Luchini) who is a tax accountant and perhaps the last man in the building who could conceivable help Anna with her marital problem. He is after all something of recluse. He doesn't drive. He usually eats alone in his apartment, which apparently is the same place as his office, watching TV (in one scene it's Humphrey Bogart as Phillip Marlowe with French subtitles). He is only marginally experienced in the ways of human relationships and knows little about psychoanalysis. (The "analyst" magazine on his desk was on economic analysis.) She flips a zippo cigarette lighter, lights a cigarette like someone new to smoking, and begins to tell a somewhat astonished Faber about the intimate details of her married life, mainly that her husband won't touch her anymore.

I previously saw Bonnaire in La Ceremonie (1995), directed by Claude Chabrol, in which she played a mean, hateful housemaid, and she was very good there. Here she is playful, almost childish at times, as she reveals her life to this stranger.

This is the first time I have seen Luchini who is very properly Parisian in his carefully knotted tie (worn even while preparing his solitary meal). His acting style is markedly laid back. He carries an almost continual look of surprise on his face--astonishment almost--with his eyes made big and round and his demeanor controlled and taciturn.

Because Anna is so direct and begins talking about herself almost immediately and because Faber is a most polite man who will not interrupt her, it is several minutes before he has the opportunity to advise her that she really wants the office down the hall where the psychoanalyst Dr. Monnier holds forth. By then he is intrigued with her and smitten, and is slow, very slow, to advise her of her error.

Also because Anna likes to talk about herself like a teenager and because William Faber is a practiced listener, there is a certain simpatico that automatically develops.

One can see where this is heading. She talks, he listens. She performs, so to speak; he appreciates. Faber is the kind of man, as his "ex" points out, who never makes the first move. This is good for Anna because it allows her to become comfortable with him before she has to respond.

The complications begin with the appearance of Anna's husband who first makes an unusual sexual demand of the very proper tax accountant, and then when that is refused, treats Faber to a most upsetting motel scene through a window across the way. Yes, it's a little contrived (as is the movie's premise). But I like the way Leconte didn't let us see the scene and only revealed later what Faber had seen.

Near the end of the film we see Faber for the first time sans necktie, which we can guess signals a change in the man. The film ends in a most artistic way with a shot from above as Anna lies stretched out on a classic analyst's couch in a cute frock with her ankles crossed and Faber... Well, we see the credits roll down the screen and we can imagine what will eventually happen.

My favorite Leconte film is Ridicule (1996). I also liked his La Fille sur la pont (1999). If you haven't seen his work you are in for a treat. He is witty in a sly way (especially here in Confidence trop intimes) and can be strikingly original. Like all good directors, he never loses track of the audience and the needs of the audience. His films are carefully cut so that we always know what is going on, but without any heavy-handedness.

See this for Patrice Leconte, one of France's most talented film makers.
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Unusual and Fulfilling
VintageSoul565 April 2014
Bravo! The French have such a way of understatement and realism in their films. This one concerns a woman who accidentally walks into the wrong office instead of the psychiatrist that she has made an appointment to see. This wonderful film unfolds and develops into something, but you are not sure what until the end. Fabrice Luchini is so unassuming. I've only seen him in a few films, but he already has become a favorite of mine. If you choose to watch this film, there is a scene that is just him. It had me laughing in just the joy of watching him start to come out of his shell. He is one person that I would like to be able to meet in person. Sandrine Bonnaire in the film is attractive, but in an ordinary way, so again, it's realism. She doesn't need to wear a lot of make up, etc. to show that she is a very lovely woman. I liked watching her as she started to become more confident. I could only imagine what an American (yes, I'm American and I love American movies too) version would do to this quiet gem of a movie. My advise to the American film industry, don't try to remake this. It's doesn't need a Reese Witherspoon (not as attractive as Bonnaire I may add) or Scarlett Johansson (too much for the role) or a bumbling Tom Hanks (can't stand him to begin with) or God forbid, Jim Carrey or Will Farrell. Just leave this wonderful French gem alone.
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Plain and simple: no professional therapy is needed:)
marina-223-2102122 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I love this film! It's a very warm human story. While characters are having some serious life struggles, the film has no drama in it at all. It's very lighthearted and yet it makes you think about what we want more than anything else in life..Turns out that our strongest desire is "just" to be listened to and it also turns out that the person who listens doesn't have to be a therapist..The accountant, who voluntarily takes on a role of a therapist, does a much better job with his female "patient" than a real therapist would do in that situation because his responses to her story are natural and genuine and, what a surprise (!), this turns out to be very helpful to the "patient"! A total absence of drama and intellectual analysis of main characters' human struggles is what makes this story so compelling and the film so enjoyable to watch. For us, the US viewers, who live in the masculine culture of ideals as opposed to earthly humanity, this film is especially refreshing because it gets us in touch with our basic emotional needs that are often invalidated in our culture. A lighthearted nature of this film doesn't make its message any less profound. I don't know about the impression that the film gave others who watched it, because, frankly, I didn't read other reviews but it left me feeling more whole as a human being because it helped me discover that what we need most of all is to create a connection with other human beings where we and they could be who we truly are.
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One of the last decade's best films
bob9983 September 2011
This is the best picture by Leconte, if we except Monsieur Hire. It is made with a great rigour and effectiveness. The tax expert's office is a bit cold and forbidding, but the people who come into it are sometimes intriguing and challenging. William Faber has sunk into a rut over the years--you can almost hear him ask himself "Should I stay in my practice and be bored, or should I sell it and explore life a bit?"--and thus the unexpected eruption of Anne Delambre with her marital problems is a welcome relief. One session per week, which he doesn't get paid for, and soon William has a new lease on life.

Fabrice Luchini and Sandrine Bonnaire play off each other so well that watching them is a joy. She's whimsical, a little confused, and he's struggling to break free of his stuffy surroundings. Anne Brochet as Luchini's sometime girlfriend, who can't quite break up with him, has many effective scenes.
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