With A Friend Like Harry

  • 2000
  • Movie
  • R
  • Thriller

Patricia Highsmith — that misanthropic scribe of sociopathic male bonding behind The Talented Mr. Ripley — would have loved this. After a sweltering afternoon's drive spent bickering with his wife Claire (Mathilde Seigner) and three squabbling daughters, struggling teacher Michel (Laurent Lucas) pulls into a rest stop. There, in the men's room,...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Patricia Highsmith — that misanthropic scribe of sociopathic male bonding behind The Talented Mr. Ripley — would have loved this. After a sweltering afternoon's drive spent bickering with his wife Claire (Mathilde Seigner) and three squabbling daughters, struggling teacher Michel (Laurent Lucas) pulls into a rest stop. There, in the men's room, he runs into Harry (Sergi Lopez), a snappy, smiling stranger who claims to be an old high-school acquaintance. Harry invites himself and his curvaceous girlfriend Plum (Sophie Guillemin) to Michel and Claire's ramshackle country house, and before their hosts quite know what's happening, Harry and Plum have installed themselves in the guest room. Michel doesn't remember Harry at all, but Harry remembers all sorts of things about Michel: The girls he dated, his dream of becoming a writer, every last word of "The Dagger in its Skin of Night," the embarrassingly phallic poem Michel wrote for the high school literary journal. Preaching a disturbingly callous philosophy of hedonism and self-actualization, Harry believes Michel could be a writer if it weren't for all those pesky distractions: those interfering parents, that suffocating wife, those clamoring kids... What begins with a discomfiting disregard for conventional social boundaries ends in something far more sinister, as helpful Harry takes matters in hand. The thematic similarities between this darkly humorous psychological thriller and Highsmith's famous Strangers on a Train should be noted right off: With each outrageous transgression, one gets the gnawing feeling that Harry (in true doppelganger fashion) might be actually fulfilling Michel's darkest desires. But director Dominik Moll takes it one cruel step further — Harry isn't just a psychopath, he's the true spirit of artistic impulse in all its antisocial glory. Lopez has a smooth charm that works on both Michel and the audience, and Moll evinces a natural flair for creating atmosphere — the sexual menace of a public restroom, the seductive interior of an expensive car — that's so crucial to this kind of suspense thriller. Fans of the genre are in for a wickedly entertaining treat.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Patricia Highsmith — that misanthropic scribe of sociopathic male bonding behind The Talented Mr. Ripley — would have loved this. After a sweltering afternoon's drive spent bickering with his wife Claire (Mathilde Seigner) and three squabbling da… (more)

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