German-born filmmaker Dominik Moll's follow-up to his thriller WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY... (2000) is a chilly, slippery, psychological ghost story that revolves around a contented young couple whose life crumbles under the influence of a miserably unhappy older couple. Alain and Benedicte Getty (Laurent Lucas, Charlotte Gainsbourg) have recently moved to a modest suburban development in the wake of Alain's promotion at Pollack S.A., a state-of-the-art electronics firm. Benedicte, between jobs, is setting up the house and Alain has caught the eye of his boss, Richard Pollack (Andre Dussollier), with his "flying webcam," a sort of sub-James Bond spybot intended to help homeowners keep an eye on things while they're away (yeah, sure). Then Alain invites Richard and his wife, Alice (Charlotte Rampling), to dinner, and things begin to go wrong. Alain gets home to find the kitchen sink clogged, and his fix-it efforts fail dismally. The Pollocks arrive late and mid-marital spat; Alice insults Benedicte, accuses Richard of whore-mongering and hurls red wine in his face before Richard hustles her out, apologizing profusely. Alain is so unsettled he can't sleep and returns to tinkering with the plumbing, eventually locating the problem: Something dead a hamster, he thinks wedged in a pipe. The following day, Benedicte discovers that Alain's "dead" hamster is still breathing and takes it to a vet (Michel Cassagne), whose nephew (Jacques Bonnaffe), identifies it as a lemming curious, that, since lemmings are native to Scandinavia and have no business stopping up drains in French suburbs. Alice meanwhile tries to seduce Alain at work and later turns up at his house; Benedicte feels compelled to invite her in and Alice repays her hospitality by committing suicide in the spare bedroom. Then things get really strange: Benedicte begins to speak like Alice, Alain has hallucinations about swarms of lemmings and Richard puts the moves on Benedicte: Is Alain trapped in some kind of waking nightmare, or has Alice's malevolent spirit possessed his wife? Moll and coscreenwriter Gilles Marchand (his HARRY... collaborator) skillfully keep their narrative options open, and Moll's rigorously formal mirroring of key images, scenes and dialogue lend the project an air of icy seriousness. Unfortunately, at heart it's more than a little silly, and not just because the ominous lemming recalls the rat that unleashes a bourgeois family's discontents in Francois Ozon's black comedy SITCOM (1999). The film's main attractions are the Charlottes, but the price of watching their eerie psychological pas de deux is to endure muddled metaphors and goofy gadgetry.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: NR
- Review: German-born filmmaker Dominik Moll's follow-up to his thriller WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY... (2000) is a chilly, slippery, psychological ghost story that revolves around a contented young couple whose life crumbles under the influence of a miserably unhappy… (more)