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Lemming – almost as good as Harry

By Jérôme Patoux
posted August 4, 2006

Lemming is not a perfect psychological thriller. Whereas French director Dominik Moll really hit the mark in 2000 With A Friend Like Harry,  a suspenseful, self-contained little gem of a thriller, he changes recipes for this new movie, with somewhat less success. The psychology borders the supernatural, and thus loses its power over the audience. Whereas Harry seemed to live next door, Lemming slowly drifts farther away from the realm of our daily possibilities.

However, this being said, Lemming has a lot to offer in other ways. First of all, it takes place in an original setting: a clean-cut neighborhood reminiscent of American middle-class suburbs, the tidy environment of a striving “domotics” [home automation engineering] company, a young and picture-perfect couple… a world under control where everything is about to break loose. Secondly, the script is very well written. A little long (as are most movies these days), the resolution is not as strong as the setup, but Dominik Moll and his co-writer Gilles Marchand definitely understand the importance of timing and resonance, and play artfully with our mind. Thirdly, the cast is a delight. The main role of the domotics engineer losing control must have been written for Laurent Lucas (also Harry’s friend in 2000). André Dussolier delivers his usual role with his classy smile and white hair (some actors fare better when they get old). Charlotte Gainsbourg is a frail, genuine, vulnerable young woman with sensitivity, a perfect counterpoint to Charlotte Rampling, giving yet another surreal performance as a distant, cold, and bizarre aging wife. Finally, there is humor. As if to release the tension, quirky little scenes are interspersed, to better prepare us for more trouble to come. One of the first scenes – two generations, two lives, two worlds collide around the dinner table – is as hilarious as it is unsettling. As in a good old Alfred Hitchcock thriller, humor might be Dominik Moll and Gilles Marchand’s best weapon.








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