With A Friend Like Harry..Disappointing.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Tino, Oct 24, 2001.

  1. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    ****Some Spoilers***
    I rented With A Friend Like Harry directed by Dominik Moll today, eager to view it especially after the many positive reviews it has received from members here.
    Without reading any other reviews or production reports, here is my interpretation after my initial viewing.
    I'm sorry to report that I found it to be very average. IMO, it was neither suspenseful, original, interesting or believable.
    It tells the story of Michel and Claire, a couple on their way to their vacation home with their three daughters. After a chance encounter with an old friend, Harry, in a mens room at a rest stop, Michel and Claire allow him and his girfriend Plum to come along for a visit.
    What follows is a series of events that change all their lives forever.
    The character of Harry, played by Sergi Lopez is a mysterious one, but unfortunately not a very interesting one. He seem to have become obsessed with Michel, played by Laurent Lucas, and will go to any lengths to insure that Michel can acheve what he is capable of in Harry's mind.
    The film moves at a slow pace, which I don't mind, however the characters were never interesting enough for me to care about. Michel comes off as a "wimp" as his wife says, and I never connected with him.
    Harry's definitely a strange eccentric character, but not developed beyond the generic "obsessed villain". I've seen characters like this before so it was really nothing new.
    I suppose the film is more about Michel's tranformation. In the beginning of the film, he is unmotivaed, driving a beat up old car, no AC, kids crying, distant from his wife, no future goals.
    By the end, thanks to Harry, he has a new car with AC, kids are sleeping like lambs, he's writing again, Eggs of course, and things are peachy with Claire and the future looks bright.
    Well, that's my take. Like I said, an average film.
    I'd like to hear other views and interpretations from members such as Edwin P and Jason W who really liked this film. To me it was a disappointment and I'm always eager to hear from the other side. [​IMG]
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    [Edited last by Tino on October 24, 2001 at 03:34 PM]
     
  2. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Tino, like I have said all along, one's enjoyment of this film will depend on how each person interprets its underlying narrative. Unfortunately, the original review thread is now gone as there were some good discussions in that thread. Anyway, here's what I originally posted about this film:
     
  3. Tino

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    Hmmmm. I assumed this film was more popular. I thought for sure that my opinion would be in the minority. Considering the amount of responses Edwin, I guess we'll have to call it a draw. [​IMG]
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  4. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  5. Nick Sievers

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    Tino, I thought the same thing when I seen this at the theatre a while ago. Very average, but as time went on I thought about it more and more and now think its an excellent film. I haven't seen it at the local video store but I would definately love to check it out again, as it has been a while since I seen it.
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  6. JasonK

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    I checked out this flick last week, and I was also disappointed.
    I really liked the first hour or so. As Edwin said, it worked on a psychological level. I mean, we have this guy who Michel doesn't remember, who wants to hang out with the fam for a while. Clearly, Harry has an agenda, but I had no idea what it was. And I liked the tension created between Harry and Michel. Harry was just this eerily friendly guy.
    But the last act of the film disappointed me. It became, as Tino said, a convential thriller. Harry goes nuts. He does a lot of bad things. I've seen this before...
    I think the film would have been scarier had Harry NOT done all these things. He could have kept on pointing out how much better off (money-wise, problem wise, and so on) he was then Michel, driving Michel crazy. Or even made Michel's wife jealous, have her start thinking she'd be better of with Harry. And then Michel could have done some terrible things instead. The film alludes to this, but instead Michel takes care of business in typical fashion, and lives happily ever after writing.
    The film showed a lot of potential, but the last act forces me to give it a marginal [​IMG].
    Jason
     
  7. Tom-G

    Tom-G Screenwriter

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    My first reaction was that I agreed with Tino, but after letting this movie sink in, I agree with Edwin.
    I didn't know much about this film before seeing it but as it progressed, I kept waiting for Harry to do some malicious deeds. The most suspenseful scene is when Harry Spoiler:lured Michael's parents out of the house and ran them off a cliff.
    Edwin hit the nail on the head when he said:
    quote: But above all, ‘Harry’ is a great character study about self-doubt and the struggles involved, the lost of individual freedom, the illusions of happiness, and the longing for lost opportunities.[/quote]
    I concur. But what was Harry's (the character) ultimate motive? Was it that he enjoyed Michae's writing so much, he was willing to kill for it? The movie left me thinking about that character the most.
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    [Edited last by Tom_G on November 05, 2001 at 10:12 AM]
     
  8. Edwin Pereyra

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    quote: But what was Harry's (the character) ultimate motive? Was it that he enjoyed Michae's writing so much, he was willing to kill for it? [/quote]
    Moll certainly does not provide clear cut answers. He wants the entire situation to remain a mystery and wants the audience to come up with their own interpretation of Harry.
    Harry's ultimate motive can be just that - he enjoyed Michael's writing so much or that he just wants to help out a friend that he is unable to comprehend certain situations, which then pushes him to certain extremes.
    I see Harry more as Michel's alter ego. The more I think about this film, the more I come to like it even more.
    ~Edwin
    [Edited last by Edwin Pereyra on November 10, 2001 at 01:44 AM]
     
  9. Tino

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    Funny, but I feel just the opposite. [​IMG]
    IMO, this film is just not as deep as some are viewing it. To me it remains a simple, generic "thriller?" with bland uninteresting characters. There is nothing in this film that was above average or surprising.
    I can ceratainly understand how some of you may view it as a character study, with meaning below its surface. I respect that. However these characters unfortunately, imo, are not worth studying. To me, the only thing beneath its surface is cliche`.
    Sorry guys, but it just didn't work for me. [​IMG]
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  10. Seth Paxton

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    Here's what I just stuck in the 2001 film thread...
    With a Friend Like Harry... OK, on to something of quality. I was not blown away just like others who had heard the hype. However, this is a solid movie. In particular it had the exact same feel as 2 other top films from 2001...Sexy Beast and The Deep End.
    Harry is another Don Logan type, and Sergi Lopez dominates the screen similar to Kingsley, despite their characters being different in their approach/temperament. And maybe it's just some of the subject matter plus location and filming style that harmonizes with The Deep End. But the similarities are there.
    I would say that if you enjoyed either The Deep End or Sexy Beast you will also like this film. I can't say it's better than either of those films, as I would rank them all in the same neighborhood. I guess SBeast gets a slight edge in style and metaphor over the other 2.
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  11. Seth Paxton

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    Something I forgot to add...
    Spoiler:Who killed Plum? I wasn't sure if I felt that Harry had done it or Michel had. Especially because he walks in on her, go to black, he's written The Eggs which was at least inspired by Plum/Harry. Her skull was cracked...like an egg. I'm not trying to reach. This was really my knee-jerk reaction to the scene since Harry had been driving him in this direction the whole time.
    Considering Harry's obsessiveness I could see him coming in to clean up, and also seeing that attack as a sign that Michel was fully out and ready to "finish the job", thus his rush to do so and confusion when Michel stabs him instead.
    Obviously that night, those moments, were the breakthrough moments for Michel. Harry finally DOES get Michel's life going in the direction he wanted to at the end.
    Also, I'm not sure why people had to be naive. Harry had nothing to do with the parents and there was no reason to suspect. Plum was explained to be a heavy sleeper right off the bat. And the brother was quickly explained to NORMALLY have the disposition to get angry and run off. He was shown as a loose, drifter type who was obviously comfortable with hitching and didn't normally care to be around his family. So Harry's story to them made sense as well.
    He was pushy to them, but I didn't see anything more than that. And Plum helped counter his presence which allows them to put up with him.
     
  12. Tino

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    I haven't seen Sexy Beast yet, but I have seen The Deep End and liked that film very much. Now that film was a great character study. I guess I was hoping that Harry would be more in the vein of Deep End but alas, for me, twas not to be. [​IMG]
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  13. Tino

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    ***Spoilers****Sorry, don't feel like using the bars. [​IMG]
    To answer your question, I think it was definitely Harry who killed Plum. The look on his face when Michel called her a pea-brained cow clinched it for me. I pretty much knew then that she was doomed.
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    [Edited last by Tino on November 10, 2001 at 08:21 AM]
     
  14. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    quote: Sorry guys, but it just didn't work for me. [/quote]
    That's too bad. I understand that those who continue to see this film as a thriller will be somewhat disappointed. Dominik Moll has said all along what this film is all about. Others seem to be missing the point.
    ***SPOILERS***
    quote: Dominick Moll explores the sharp tensions between dark human desires and the polite surface of civil society - tensions that sometimes produce gruesome and violent results. Moll admits being fascinated by the thin, almost invisible line between normal and abnormal human behaviour, and the same unsettling question -just what causes an ordinary human impulse to turn into a bizarrely menacing one.
    In WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY... even the smallest moments of life - the unceasing cry of a young girl for her lollipop, the reading of a amateur poem - seem to bristle with an underlying malice that is irresistible to watch. Dominik Moll specifically wanted to keep the tension building in subtle, mischievous, almost imperceptible ways, throughout his film. "I wanted the film to be driven by tension and suspense," he says. "I wanted to draw the audience in and make them enjoy the game, even when it becomes scary."
    Moll's initial inspiration for the story came from his own experiences as a young parent with two daughters, facing the end of his youthful freedom, much like the central character of Michel. "Every young parent is driven to a point when they think 'How the hell did I get myself into this mess?' Most of my friends seemed to have this same experience," he notes. "So I began to wonder what would happen if a character suddenly came into my life who externalized all my doubts and frustrations and self-questioning - and then pursued these doubts to their illogical conclusion!"
    Thus Harry was born. But rather than make Harry a recognizable monster, Moll explored the complicated and fascinating nature of his charismatic character, and the reasons that he and Michel diverged so completely in their adult lives, only to have a fateful - and possibly fatal -- reunion. He explains:. "Michel has a pragmatic, live-and-let-live attitude. He thinks he does a good job of handling his everyday life and tries to avoid conflict, be it with his wife, his parents or anyone else. Harry, on the other hand, has a more drastic philosophy: every problem has a solution. Not just a quick fix, but a solution that thoroughly eradicates the problem. I think when Harry sees his old friend Michel bogged down in such petty hassles, he really wants to help him. He has no idea that his solutions might be so drastic."
    At times Harry is frightening, and at other times his actions are funny. Dominik Moll feels that the two responses to Harry are equally valid. "I'm interested in the complexity of human behavior and relationships," he explains. "I like characters with more than one facet. I also prefer to describe them with a detachment that leaves room for humor. It doesn't stop me from caring about them. My characters move me and I feel that I understand them."[/quote]
    Look at it from this point of view.
    Harry is Michel's alter ego. It is a product of his own imagination. The pink bathroom is a metaphor for his subconscious. It represents the struggle in Michel between the person that he is now vs. the person he might have been. This is exemplified in Dominik Moll’s intriguing camera work especially that long shot in the rest area bathroom where Michel “meets” Harry for the very first time.
    The film’s storyline goes into the deep recesses of the subconscious and explores the possibilities of what life might have been had different choices been made. In Michel’s situation it delves into a life with no screaming children, intrusive parents and a more luxurious and comfortable life, which in the end, turns out to be just illusions of happiness. More importantly, along the lines of Moll’s vision, the film truly examines the human dilemmas between desire and fear, identity and illusion, freedom and passivity, making choices and compromise.
    Very few films this year have been this enriching. With A Friend Like Harry is one of them.
    ~Edwin
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    [Edited last by Edwin Pereyra on November 10, 2001 at 01:01 PM]
     

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