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 love at his wife as she dozes next to him. He looks back at his children with tenderness and contentment as they lie next to each other sound asleep. He looks at the manuscript of a long story he has written.
In between shouldn't happen to anyone.
At a rest stop on the family's drive to the cottage, Michel encounters by chance Harry, (Sergi Lopez) a man who went to school with him, a man he can't remember but Harry remembers him. When Michel was in school he wrote stories, and Harry remembers every word. Harry stands a little too close, shakes hands a little too long, is a little too pleasant. He's traveling with his girlfriend, Plum. Somehow he manages to be invited to the cottage for drinks. Michel, when Harry asks, says he works as a teacher in Paris. What does Harry do? He used to live off his father, he says, but "then my father died and now I manage his money."
Harry believes that every problem needs a solution. When Michel's old car breaks down, Harry buys him a new 4x4, far out of proportion as a gift from a friend. Michel and his wife protest, but Harry says "Why complicate life? I wanted to give you a present." Harry wants Michel to be happy and to write, and he wants Michel's friendship. And problems need solutions. Michel's parents at times make Michel unhappy. After they die in a car accident, Michel's brother finds one of Michel's old stories and makes fun of it. Later Harry explains that Michel's brother won't be returning to the cottage, that he decided to hitchhike back to the city where he lives. Harry decides that Plum is a problem for his relationship with Michel that needs a solution. And then Harry decides that Michel's wife and small children are a problem.
This is a first-rate movie, part thriller, partly a study in murderous obsession. Laurent Lucas does a fine job as Michel. Michel is an honest guy who loves his family, who gave up trying to write, who is frazzled, who is just a little weak. He can't deal firmly with his parents, he tends to let his wife discipline their kids when they act up, and he finds it difficult to just say No to Harry as Harry gradually works his way into Michel's life. Lucas is a good looking actor but he's not pretty. He's believable as the character. Sergi Lopez as Harry brings a great deal of calm, unsettling friendliness to his role.
When Lopez stops smiling, you know Harry is going to do something unpleasant.
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 … more
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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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 ...