With a friend like harry directed by Dominik Moll, written by Moll and Gilles Marchand, produced by Michel Saint-Jean, with Laurent Lucas, Sergi Lopez, Mathilde Seigner and Sophie Guillemin. A Diaphana Films production. An Alliance Atlantis release. 117 minutes. Opens Friday (May 11). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 97. Rating: NNNN
a good thriller knows when it's time to up the ante and let the villain loose to wreak havoc. It's a fine line: if there's too much nastiness early on, the suspense won't be there, but wait too long and viewers will feel they didn't get enough bang for their bucks.
In his second film, With A Friend Like Harry, writer/director Dominik Moll gives us a near-perfect thriller. It stars Laurent Lucas as Michel, a once-aspiring writer who's now a husband and father. He meets university pal Harry (Sergi Lopez) during a family vacation, and the wealthy, idle and insane Harry dedicates himself to helping Michel resume his writing.
"The key word to understanding Harry is "sincerity,'" says the German-born Moll in an interview during last year's Toronto International Film Festival.
"He does everything in a completely sincere way. The problem is that he thinks Michel can only get back to writing if there is no one around him, if his family disappears."
With A Friend Like Harry is being compared to Hitchcock, which Moll takes as a huge compliment, since Hitchcock is his favourite director. The title itself is reminiscent of Hitchcock's The Trouble With Harry.
"Harry is a name that has nothing to do with reality, because in France nobody's called Harry," says Moll.
"I don't know anyone named Harry. For me, it's a name that's connected with movies -- The Trouble With Harry, there's Harry Lime in The Third Man, Dirty Harry, Deconstructing Harry, When Harry Met Sally.
"In my movie, Michel and Claire represent everyday life, and Harry represents the fictional side of life, so it was important to me that his name sound fictional and not be an everyday name such as Jean-Pierre."
Moll came up with the idea for the film while struggling with his own desire to help raise a family and focus on filmmaking. Women around the world deal every day with juggling family and career, so it's not necessarily an original concept. But the film does offer a peek into the male side of the wish for both the freedom to create and the security of a loving family.
"The idea of children being difficult to live with isn't shown very often in movies," says Moll. "Usually, children are treated as small adults, little geniuses or well behaved, and I really wanted to bring across the idea that even if you love your children there are moments when you want to strangle them."