Eye For Film >> Movies >> Intimate Strangers (2004) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Anna, a woman looking for a psychiatrist, stumbles into the office of a tax lawyer by mistake and pours out her heart to him before he realises what's happening. After her second visit, she discovers the truth, but their meetings continue. This fascinating idea is still more interestingly played because the story skirts around the edges of familiar thriller territory and dares to concentrate on interpersonal drama instead. Unfortunately, there simply isn't enough story to support nearly two hours of film. What might have been an oil painting really suffers from being watered down; it's lumpy and uneven and faded.
Confidences trop Intimes is the sort of film which really depends on strong performances. It has a few here, most notably from Fabrice Luchini, whose superbly understated turn as the staid and vulnerable but far from stupid lawyer at times transcends the thin script. He is able supported by Hélène Surgère as his cynical secretary and Anne Brochet as his ex; and Michel Duchaussoy provides a finely judged comic performance as the real psychiatrist, to whom our hero turns for advice.
However, this kind of film relies on having a remarkable heroine, and Sandrine Bonnaire simply isn't up to the job. Her flighty, tearful Anna is the same from start to finish - urgent emotions flit across her face, but there is no sign of any substantial change, no sign of character development. Most importantly, there is no sign of her having developed any significant interest in the hero, though the script implies this. She is a blank wall against which fellow cast members hurl their best work in vain. Being beautiful is not enough for a part like this, and director Patrice Leconte, who made such a powerful impression in the past with the likes of Ridicule and Monsieur Hire, really ought to know that by now.
As it is, the whole story becomes skewed by this imbalance. It's easy to see why a quiet, lonely man might fall head over heels for a mysterious and emotional woman, but harder to believe that this is, on any level, a good idea, or that it could possibly lead to a lasting happy ending. The moral of the story seems to be that chance meetings can lead to conversations which lead people to change their familiar ways and pursue courses leading to true happiness - it's just hard to see how these particular people might expect to do that together.
This central story is vaguely paralleled by a subplot in which we see the lawyer's ex embark on a new relationship, a situation which seems potentially more interesting, but which is underexplored. We are also confronted by the strangely uncertain spectacle of Anna's disintegrating marriage, centered around sexual perversions which the scriptwriters seem neither to understand nor to know what to do with.
Too much of the story seems like filler, calculated to produce particular audience reactions rather than flowing naturally from the greater narrative. There are some successful attempts at humour, and one or two moments which are genuinely alarming, but these don't seem to go anywhere. Overall, the impression is of a film which doesn't really know what it wants to be.Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2007