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With a Friend Like Harry...

A movie directed by Dominik Moll

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un ami qui vous veut du bien 2000

  • Oct 1, 2002
Pros: Harry is definitely someone to have on your side

Cons: Harry

The Bottom Line: Interesting study

aka With A Friend Like Harry

Michel & Claire are just barely making it – three young daughters, a car on the blink, struggling to convert the old family farm into living quarters. They are doing OK, but not tops. While on the yearly junket to the farmstead, after a trying automobile trip, they stop to take care of a cranky daughter. Michel runs into old school chum, Harry, who is taking his latest love Plum (Brin or Prune, explain later) to see the Matterhorn.

Harry takes sympathy on the pack and offers the young ones a ride in his air-conditioned cruiser, much to Michel’s relief. But this is the start of a very bad week for Michel & Claire.

Turns out Harry is filthy rich and a playboy. He wants to shower Michel with gifts, including a new Mitsubishi 4x4, because we discover Harry has apparently always admired Michel. In fact he becomes so entranced with Michel that he wants to change his entire life. In fact, it would be just ever so delicious if all those bothersome people that clutter up Michel’s life were out of the way.

And with a friend like Harry, you really have to watch.

Closed captioning and/or subtitles – sigh. I have no problem with these. I knew this was a French film and it would have subtitles but low and behold, it offered the English version of the film in addition to the French on the DVD. I naturally selected English because I speak only one language. After all, I live in only one country, but that is another peeve of mine and I’ll let it pass this time.

Anyway, maybe the subtitleist watched a different version of the movie? Or maybe switching it to English instead of French changed everything? I simply don’t understand. Not one word – I mean not one single word – that was spoken is the same as what was typed on the screen. Why is that? I don’t mean words left out or changed a little, I mean entire sentences completely different.

Which leads me to Plum or Prune or Brin, or whatever you want to call her. When Harry, or anyone, spoke to her they called her Brin – that is BRIN – but when the captioning typed it, it came out as Plum. PLUM? How close IS that to Brin anyway? Then when it comes credit time, up pops Prune. Now where the Hell did that come from? I began to wonder, was it my ears, did I hear incorrectly and they were mumbling Prune instead of Brin? No, no way and no how, it was definitely Brin. Of course, I could understand the Plum/Prune thing.
/end Rant

Overall though, once I could get that captioning under my belt, I became intrigued with the movie. It is definitely darkly subtle, almost comedic at times. The acting was atrocious, all very stoic and melodramatic, but at the same time it was good. It is one of those movies that kind of pulls you to it, making you want to watch and be a part of it even while you are asking why you are wasting your buck 98 on this ditty.

Of course you understand from the beginning that Harry is entirely strange, but you don’t realize the depth of his bizarre behavior, nor his fixation with Michael. It isn’t that he loves Michel and wants to romp his skinny butt, at the same time you get an edgy feeling, almost voyeuristic. Then again, Michel’s parents, I understand that, and just how deep is that well anyway? Harry should have thought of that instead of the cliff thing.

But maybe he wanted Michel to be dependent on him, need his shoulder to cry on. I don’t know, it is very black and obscure at this point.

I have to like the movie because it takes so many twists that you don’t expect even though you know something is bound to happen, because, after all, with a friend like Harry………….

Laurent Lucas .... Michel
Sergi López .... Harry
Mathilde Seigner .... Claire
Sophie Guillemin .... Prune (Plum/Brin/whoever)
Directed by Dominik Moll and written by Gilles Marchand, Dominik Moll and adapted from the poem Un poignard en peau de nuit by Francis Villain (hey, neat name huh?)

As far as awards go, this thing hit the big time:
~Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA - Saturn Award Best DVD Release
~BAFTA Awards - Best Film not in the English Language
~Bratislava International Film Festival - Grand Prix
~Cannes Film Festival - Golden Palm
~César Awards, France – Best Film
~European Film Awards – Best Film
~London Critics Circle Film Awards ALFS Award - Foreign Language Film of the Year
~Online Film Critics Society Awards - Best Foreign Language Film
~San Diego International Film Festival - Best Feature Film

~César Awards, France - Best Actor, Sergi López: Best Director, Dominik Moll: Best Editing, Yannick Kergoat:
Best Sound, François Maurel, Gérard Lamps, Gérard Hardy: Best Music Written for a Film, David Whitaker (I):
Best Supporting Actress, Mathilde Seigner: Best Writing - Original or Adaptation, Dominik Moll, Gilles Marchand ; Most Promising Actress, Sophie Guillemin

~European Film Awards - Best Actor, Sergi López: Best Screenwriter, Dominik Moll, Gilles Marchand

~San Diego International Film Festival - Best Feature Film

Not a film for everyone, although it wouldn’t offend most. Language is fairly tame and except for a scene or two, it is generally blasé, leaving your imagination do the work. It is interesting enough to watch Harry and just see what his brain will come up with next to solve Michel’s problems, because after all, every problem has a solution.

My only question is though, what was up with the flying monkeys?



Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More With a Friend Like Harry... reviews
review by . March 29, 2011
Be cautious making friends and never let them meet your parents
With a Friend Like Harry starts with a car ride. Michel (Laurent Lucas) and his wife and three young daughters are driving from Paris to a rundown country cottage they bought and hope to fix up over time. It's hot. The three little girls fuss and cry and kick the backs of the seats. Michel tries to stay calm. His wife is upset as she attempts to settle the girls.       The movie ends with another car ride. Michel is driving the family back to Paris. He looks with great …
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WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY is a silently terrifying psychological thriller that builds from a sedate family story into a suspenseful horror scenario with the use of smart, spine-tingling dialogue and simple acts of manipulation. There is almost no violence in the film, and the shock value is minimal. Instead, the film relies on the piercing reality of the story it tells, on the intuition of its viewers, and on good old scared-of-the-dark fear. <br> <br> In the frenzied heat of midsummer, a family--Michel (Laurent Lucas) and Claire (Mathilde Seigner) and their three small daughters--are taking their summer vacation. Michel teaches French and Japanese in Paris, while Claire is overworked with the responsibility of raising the three little girls. Much in need of a some relaxing time off, the family retreats to the secluded stone country house they bought a few years back. Though they have been working hard to restore the place, it has a few minor hazards that need fixing--such the deep, empty well hidden in ...
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Director: Dominik Moll
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: April 20, 2001
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: October 23, 2001
Runtime: 1hr 57min
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