Harry, He's Here To Help


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Harry, He's Here To Help
"As a study in psychopathic single-mindedness, its sickness is its strength."

The trouble with Harry is that he's too nice. When a stranger starts giving you things, such as a brand new car, you say no and then you say maybe and then you think, what's he want?

He doesn't know what he wants. You are left to guess. Two things are certain: he won't let anyone patronise him and he's on a mission to change the way it is.

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He meets Michel (Laurent Lucas) in the public toilets at a motorway service station and recognises him as the boy he hero-worshipped as a kid for the poems and stories he wrote in the school magazine. Michel doesn't remember Harry and is suspicious of this pushy, confident man, until he quotes one of his poems word perfect.

Michel teaches French as a foreign language in Paris. His literary ambitions died in his teens. He is married to Claire (Mathilde Seigner) and they have three noisy little girls.

Harry has two obsessions, perfecting the art of lovemaking and ensuring that Michel returns to writing. The first is serviced by his sweet-natured, rather dim fiancee (Sophie Guillemin). The second is more complicated. Too many people stand in the way - Michel's parents, his brother, Claire and the children - which means that something has to be done about them, something permanent.

Writer/director Dominik Moll spends the first half of the film depicting the ordinariness of married life and how stressful it is with small children. Harry, by contrast, is exotic. He can indulge his sexual fantasies and do what he wants. Michel and Claire are tied to the demands of feeding, cleaning and entertaining their brood, with neither enough time, nor money, to do it properly.

When things get weird in the second half, it seems almost absurd. Sergi Lopez (the lover in An Affair Of Love) shows Harry's controlled side and there are intimations of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, when earlier the pace of the film was closer to The Vanishing. As a study in psychopathic single-mindedness, however, its sickness is its strength.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Dark tale of an obsessive friend who imposes upon a family for psychopathic reasons.
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Director: Dominik Moll

Writer: Dominik Moll, Gilles Marchand

Starring: Laurent Lucas, Mathilde Seigner, Sergi Lopez, Sophie Guillemin, Liliane Rovere

Year: 1999

Runtime: 117 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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The Vanishing