Harry, a friend who means you well: the French thriller who wishes you well

Harry, a friend who means you well: the French thriller who wishes you well

Shock, but never provoc’, Harry, a friend who wishes you well treats where it hurts. A thriller made in France as we hardly do anymore.

Time obviously has no influence on Harry, a friend who wishes you well. Twenty-two years on the clock and the film has lost none of its irresistible darkness. Its director, Dominik Moll, has since steered his boat with talent, most often with his now faithful co-screenwriter, Gilles Marchand. We owe them in particular another great success, only beastsand their latest collaboration, The night of 12 (in theaters on July 13, 2022), promises to be here again under the best auspices.

But back to dear Harry. After a presentation in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000, French spectators discover it at the cinema in the wake, in the middle of summer, and wish it, in turn, the greatest good. Its success at the French box office can testify to this, with a total of around 2 million admissions, not to mention the great success of esteem received across the Atlantic. And then in 2001, the film wins four Césarsincluding Best Director and Best Actor for Sergi Lopez.

A total triumph that is driving a real revival of interest in French genre cinema that is both popular and unique. Hence the famous horrific wave of “French Frayeurs” which swept over French production years later, but failed to bring the public together due to openly assumed gore violence. With Harry, a friend who wishes you wellthe discomfort becomes more insidious and never deprives the spectator of the possibility of laughing at it.

A face as unfathomable as that of the Mona Lisa


For Michael (Lawrence Lucas) and Claire (Mathilde Seigner), parents of three little girls, life is a long calm river. As they return to their country house for the summer holidays, they cross paths with a former classmate of Michel’s, the aptly named Harry (Sergi López therefore, astoundingly ambiguous), accompanied by his fiancée Prune . Chance meeting or disguised scheme? What is certain is that the prey, Michel, took the bait of the “fisherman”, Harry.

The analogy is not chosen by chance insofar as Dominik Moll has always said he is passionate about animal documentaries. And his approach as a director is to match, closer to that of the documentary filmmaker than the aesthete. Which obviously does not prevent him from using the grammar of cinema to his advantage. If it takes up the codes of Hitchcockian suspensethe plot remotely evoking The Stranger of the Nord-Expresshe leaves room for his characters to evolve freely in front of his camera, and the actors, glaringly natural, pay him back.

Harry, a friend who wants you well: photo, Laurent Lucas, Mathilde SeignerBetter keep watch, Harry might come ashore

The scene of the reunion between Michel and Harry in the public toilets of a service station is quite eloquent on this level. The two men apprehend each other mutually, the first embarrassed at not recognizing the second, and for the filmmaker as well as the spectator, it is then a question of tracking down the slightest tremor, the slightest bit significant, on the “face-landscapes” of the actors. . Of course, this wait-and-see gaze from the camera is never stronger than when it is focused on Harry, a character who is both deeply lovable and detestable.


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