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With a Friend Like Harry

With a Friend Like Harry

A psychological "thriller" from France which translates as "Harry, a friend who wants the best for you," is a well acted piece which broods with dark humor in subtle fashion which would prompt a nod of approval from the master of surprise, Alfred Hitchcock.

It starts out on an oppressive warm day with Laurent Lucas' language teacher Michel, harangued by wife Clair (Mathilde Seigner) and their three surly, wailing kids as they travel the highway to a quaint countryside home.

Michel reaches a gas station with his battered vehicle's lack of air conditioning and sees a peculiar smile on a man in the restroom who identifies him as a schoolmate nearly two decades before.

Though Harry, as smartly performed by Sergi Lopez, doesn't seem too distressed by Michael's unawareness of his existence, nor his unfriendly demeanor, he persuades him to have an evening with him and gorgeous girlfriend, Plum (Sophie Guillemin).  His air-conditioned Mercedes is what the doctor ordered for Clair and the kids.

With A Friend Like Harry soon gains a more odd, engaging quality with the understanding of a poem that Michel penned in high school and a short story that Harry can't get out of his mind, as Harry is dismayed that Michel hasn't honed his writing skills.

What Harry sees in Michael's life is the wretchedness in his family, along with meddling parents, who have put in an uncoordinated purplish red bathroom in the family's farmhouse, as nothing in and around the dilapidated abode would make his life pleasant.

So Harry is a weekend guest and takes it upon himself to make things better for Michel, not just financially, though the independently wealthy fellow presents a sweet new SUV to the objecting couple.  It's clear that for Michel to find his true calling, Harry can only fulfill this through excess with harrowing effects.

An unnerving, but riveting take on The Trouble With Harry and strangely enough, David Fincher's Fight Club, With A Friend Like Harry works from the gradual eccentricities of Lopez that don't have much for Michel to draw stronger conclusions until near the climax.  Maybe the nice guy could be insane, not just for gulping raw eggs in the dark.  How Michel perceives the presence of Harry in his life underlines the moody psychological ambiguity which goes to show that misery can't resist the company of a friend like Harry.

With a Friend Like Harry

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