Intimate Strangers

Intimate Strangers


Reviewed by: Andrea Mullaney

It's terrible to reduce film criticism to geography, but there's just no getting around it: this is tres, tres Français. It could be dubbed into Polish or Mongolian and you'd still be able to identify it as a product of Paris. Which isn't to say that it's a bad movie, naturally, but it exists firmly in that world of cigarette-smoking unhappily married women discussing sex with unattractive men, a world that bears no relation either to the real France or to Hollywood. In some strange oversight, neither Gerard Depardieu, nor Daniel Auteil, are involved, but they're here in spirit.

The basic unreality of the film comes in at the start, when Anna Delambre (Sandrine Bonnaire) walks into the small financial advisor's office of William Faber (Fabrice Luchini) and begins to tell him about her marital problems. It's very clearly not a psychiatrist's office, being decked out with ledgers and tax volumes, but supposedly Anna has mistaken it for the one down the hall where she actually has an appointment. William is similarly confused and neglects to point out her mistake, or perhaps he's just rather turned on by her confessions.

Copy picture

Before long, and even when the misunderstanding is cleared up, Anna is visiting William and divulging all in a self-indulgent rash. In turn, he is so intrigued and disturbed by her confessions - and all it teaches him about female sexuality he has previously had some difficulty with - that he ends up consulting the therapist she was originally supposed to see.

Practically all of the film takes place in William's small office flat, giving it a claustrophobic air, suggesting his closed-in life. As their sessions continue, Anna blooms, while her self-appointed guide begins to wonder just what she's up to. But some intriguing ideas never lead anywhere and, really, the film is all talk and no action, much like William himself.

Bonnaire and Luchini are both excellent, the former managing to take the clichéd role of the lovelorn housewife somewhere interesting and the latter giving a delightfully neat performance as the rabbit-like man caught in her light. He does have one ill-advised scene, nicked from Kevin Kline's In And Out, or Robin Williams' Mrs Doubtfire, where he boogies alone in his hallway, which belongs in another, more feelgood movie.

The outcome of the film is never in much doubt and there's a distinct sense of "so what?" about it all, but it's a pleasant, well-observed meander.

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2004
Share this with others on...
Intimate Strangers packshot
A woman mistakes a tax adviser for a psychiatrist and begins to reveal her marital problems.
Amazon link

Read more Intimate Strangers reviews:

Jennie Kermode **1/2

Director: Patrice Leconte

Writer: Jerome Tonnerre

Starring: Sandrine Bonnaire, Fabrice Luchini, Michel Duchaussoy, Anne Brochet, Gilbert Melki, Jean-Pierre Bacri

Year: 2004

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


Search database:

If you like this, try:

Le Parfum d'Yvonne